Aberdeen Grammar 38
STEPHEN BRUNSDON @ Stoneyhill
ABERDEEN GRAMMAR overcame a stubborn Musselburgh and torrential rain to record their fourth Tennent’s Premiership victory of the season at a soggy Stoneyhill. Both sides came into this weekend’s match keen to kick on from encouraging wins last week, and it was the visitors that managed to delivered the more mature performance.
Sandy Watt opened the scoring for the home side inside 10 minutes before Aberdeen responded with Ross Anderson’s short range effort. Musselburgh retook the lead through Gregor Tait before Grammar levelled the scores again thanks to Nathan Brown‘s try just before half-time.
The boot of Danny Owenson nudged Musselburgh back in front, but Aberdeen asserted their grip on the game through two tries from Robin Cessford, a second from Anderson and a final minute score from Chris Jollands.
Musselburgh were left to rue a decision not to kick a simple penalty early in the second half, and despite Watt and Tait bagging their second tries, head coach Graeme Paterson had to make do with another defeat.
“I honestly don’t have any words to explain why we didn’t kick those points,” he shrugged. “It was a game we should have won and our game management really let us down today.
“The conditions were not ideal but both teams showed they could play some good rugby. We just lacked that little bit extra composure when it counted and that’s probably what cost us the game.”
If small margins were what cost Musselburgh the win, for Aberdeen it was their much bigger assets in the pack which provided the ideal platform to seize control of the match.
“There were a lot of big performances from the forwards today, Robin in particular was immense. We do rely on our forwards to get us on the front foot and in these conditions today, that was really important,” said victorious head coach Ali O’Connor.
“I thought the way we played the territory game in the second half was really good. With the conditions as they were and the hill on the pitch at Musselburgh you have to try and play that sort of game as much as you can,” he added.
“We put the pressure on them to play and make mistakes and we did that pretty well. But the most important thing is that we got the bonus point, five points in the bag and we’re able to look ahead to next week with optimism.”
Musselburgh: J Ferguson; S Watt, N Sweeney, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson; R Stott, P Portsmouth, C Arthur, W Fleming, G McKinstry, C Pryde, M Outram, L Hutson. Subs: E Bonthron, J Haynes, C Champion, A Reddick, R Smith.
Aberdeen Grammar: T Morrison; N Brown, M Mitchell, T Aplin, D Russell; S Knudson, J Troup; R Anderson, B Inglis, C Reddish, N Coe, R Cessford, C Jollands, W Alton, G Ryan. Subs: J Spence, A Cook, D Wallen, P Ritchie, C Shepherd.
Referee: F Brown
Musselburgh: Tries: Tait 2, Watt, McKinstry; Cons: Owenson 2; Pens: Owenson 2
Aberdeen Grammar: Tries: Anderson 2, Cessford 2, Brown, Jollands; Cons: Alpin 4.
Scoring sequence (Musselburgh first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7; 12-7; 14-7; 14-12; 14-14; 17-14; 17-19; 17-21; 22-21 (h-t); 22-26; 22-28; 25-28; 25-33; 30-33; 32-33; 32-38.
Man-of-the-Match: He may have been on the losing side today but Musselburgh winger Gregor Tait was instrumental in hauling his side back into the mix in the second half. His solo effort try to bring Burgh to within three points of Grammar was sensational and kept the game open right till the end.
Talking point: The frankly baffling decision not take the three points when they were so easily on offer in the second half arguably cost Muuselburgh the win. On a day where any sort of scoreboard advantage was key, the gamble to go for the try and open a larger lead got the better of the home side. On the other side, Grammar’s heavy and technically solid pack was the key factor for the visitors, with penalties giving them valuable territory on which to build their attack.