Aberdeen Grammar 6
JACK NIXON @ Rubislaw
ABERDEEN GRAMMAR and Marr had points to make in this tussle with both sides seeking wins to keep their seasons alive. For the hosts, it was an opportunity to build on last week’s first win of the campaign at home to Glasgow Hawks, while for Marr it was vital to bounce back from their defeat to Currie Chieftains.
In the event, it was 14 man Marr who survived the appalling conditions to keep themselves in second place in the Premiership, leaving Grammar with the most slender of chances of beating the drop at the end of the season.
The real issue for those who endured the driving rain was whether or not the game should even have been played, given the forecast for the afternoon. Conditions become so bad it was nigh on impossible to identify players in the gloom and glaur of one of the worst days ever experienced in recent history at Rubislaw.
To the credit of both teams, the game went ahead and not surprisingly became a forward battle, although Marr were quick to test the home back division, and were especially well served by winger Scott Bickerstaff, who popped up in most good things created by the Ayrshire visitors.
On 20 minutes, Marr enterprise took them to the home line where flanker Robert Brown was quick to take advantage of poor Grammar defending, touching down near the posts, giving stand-off Colin Sturgeon the easiest of conversions.
Grammar hit back almost immediately when centre and co-captain Tom Aplin kicked a penalty to make it 7-3, sparking off a spell of home pressure, only for hooker Matthias Schosser to fall foul of referee Finlay Brown, earning him a yellow card.
It was then the turn of Marr lock Jordan McLean to get the wrong side of the whistler, but this time it was a straight red for what was deemed to be a dangerous tackle. Given the dreadful conditions it seemed to be a harsh decision.
Marr regrouped to go into the break 7-3 down but were soon under pressure in the second period, conceding an early penalty which Aplin kicked to raise hopes amongst the small but vociferous home support, but the visitors were well up to the challenge, raising their game, giving Sturgeon an easy pot at goal which he took with alacrity to ease his side into a 10-6 lead.
Inspired by that score, the title contenders took control of the game, although by this time the action was being played out in near darkness. Although it was light enough to see that it was Sturgeon who had touched down after a mix up in the home defence, securing the win for his side and adding the seal with the conversion, which made it 17-6.
Mercifully, referee Brown blew early for full-time in this battle against the elements.
”It was a question of survival but we knuckled down, playing with 14 men for nearly 55 minutes to earn four valuable points,” said Marr head coach Craig Redpath.
Iain Stanger, the Grammar forwards coach, was disappointed with the result but proud of his pack’s application. “We put in some big shifts out there but once again failed to take our chances,” he said. “It’s the story of our season. We now have two season-defining games either side of the Christmas break, against Jed and Musselburgh”
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Aberdeen Grammar: C Shepherd; D Russell, A Andrea, T Aplin, B Renton; C Scott, P Ritchie; C Reddish, M Schosser, G Breese, A Robertson, C Robertson, N Coe, B Inglis, P Mullholland. Subs: S Renfrew, G Robertson, L Buchan, S Knudson, M New.
Marr: D Steele; S Bickerstaff, J Shedden, M O’Sullivan, G Montgomery ; C Sturgeon, S Broad; B Sweet, D Jardine, W Farquhar, J McLean, F Grant, R Jackson, R Brown, M Pearce. Subs: C McMillan, C Millar, B Johnston, C Inglis, S McDonald.
Aberdeen Grammar: Pens: Aplin 2
Marr: Tries: Brown, Sturgeon; Cons: Sturgeon 2; Pen: Sturgeon.
Scoring sequence (Aberdeen first): 0-5; 0-7; 3-7 (h-t) 6-7, 6-10, 6-15, 6-17.
Man-of-the-Match: Hard to say given the difficulty of player spotting. They were all heroes. Scott Bickerstaff was an early stand out, but over the piece, Colin Sturgeon’s all round excellence made him the best individual on show.
Talking Point: There is a big question over whether or not the game should have gone ahead. But once again the coffee ladies, Judith and Kirstie, were the unsung heroines with their supply of pies and hot drinks.