Aberdeen Grammar 14
JACK NIXON @ Rubislaw
GHA pushed Aberdeen Grammar one step nearer relegation but only after surviving a furious second half comeback from the home side who now look confined to a spell in the national leagues after suffering their 10th consecutive defeat.
The Glasgow side, on the other hand, look to have made their position safe in the top Scottish amateur league. They will have been relieved as they headed back down the A90 with four points in the bag, although after half an hour of play they seemed set to rack up a try bonus win at 21-0 to the good, full of guile matched by strong purposeful running.
Unfortunately for the visitors, the Rubislaw side finally found their feet, surging back to score a late first half try after 10 minutes of relentless pressure, attributed to lock Nat Coe, who took advantage of good work by his stand-off Sam Knudson to race in at the posts. Tom Aplin, the Grammar captain and centre, added the extras to set up his team’s second half challenge.
GHA centre Max MacFarlane had got his side off to the best possible start in seven minutes, skipping through the home defence, giving scrum-half George Baird the easiest of conversions. Worse was to come for the homesters in 23 minutes when visiting flanker Scott Plumridge broke some puny tackles to touchdown under the posts, making Baird’s conversion a formality.
At this point the Aberdeen side looked down and out, and it was no surprise when GHA pushed further ahead on the half hour mark when Andre Stirrat raced over in the corner, set up by the sterling work of stand-off Andrew Goudie. His half back partner rubbed salt in the Grammar wounds with an outrageous conversion from the touch line to make it 21-0 and the possibility of a rout was very much in the air.
The Grammar try on the stroke of half time changed all that, and with the wind picking up in the second half, the visitors had to endure severe pressure, as the home team scented a first victory of the season.
The fact that the winless home side were only able to score one try, owed much to their own inability to take their chances, although in fairness to them, GHA defended like their very lives depended on it. The home side were not helped by the loss the services of Coe for 10 minutes when he was yellow carded for a high tackle.
Aberdeen’s injury toll continued to grow when Ben Inglis, one of their most consistent performers this season, went off concussed, followed late in the game when fellow flanker Greig Ryan suffering a groin injury.
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Tho only score of the second half fell to prop Mattihias Schosser, who went over in the corner after excellent play from Knudson, who was the home team’s stand-out in their back division, although winger Craig Shepherd pushed him close. Aplin secured Grammar’s losing bonus point with a superb conversion.
But while Grammar held most of the second half aces, GHA were dangerous on the break, ending the game in charge to the delight of head coach Trevor Carmichael.
”I am just pleased to have won,” he said. “Our play in the first half probably merited a try bonus point, but, in fairness, Grammar came back at us.”
Home head coach, Ali O’Connor, who had hoped to celebrate his birthday with a first win of the season, said: ”As we have been discovering all season, it’s all about fine margins. We might also have taken some of the chances which came our way in the second half. The spirit we showed today gives us some hope for the rest of the season.”
Aberdeen Grammar: R James; D Russell, C Scott, T Aplin, C Sheherd; S Knudson, T Morrison; C Reddish, M Schosser, G Breese, C Walker, N Coe, G Ryan, B Inglis, C Buchan. Subs: J Robertson, L Buchan, A Robertson, M New, N Brown.
GHA: R O’Keefe; S Carden, M McFarlane, A Stirrat, S Derrick; A Goudie, G Baird; T Brogan, G Hiddleston, M Fox, J Campbell, J McCarthy, A Kerr, S Plumridge, J Bruce. Subs: E Cavan, D Ewing, W Graham, M Johnstone, C Hynd.
Referee: Dunx McClement
Aberdeen Grammar: Tries: Coe, Schosser; Cons: Aplin 2.
GHA: Tries:, MacFarlane, Plumridge, Stirrat; Cons: Baird 3.
Scoring sequence (Aberdeen first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-19; 0-21; 5-21; 7-21 (h-t) 12-21; 14-21.
Man-of-the-Match: GHA’s Scott Plumridge was tireless in the back-row but it was centre Andrew Stirrat who was the pick of both sets of backs, attacking and defending in equal measure. Grammar were best served by Ben Inglis until he was forced off, while No8 Corey Buchan had another great game, proving his worth since making the move from Gordonians. Sam Knudson continues to impress at No 10.
Talking Point: The amount of injury time added by referee McClement was a head scratcher, and the whistler did not have the best of afternoons, missing a number of off the ball incidents, while succeeding in making himself the centre of attraction in a game which deserved better.