Aberdeen Grammar 3
ALAN LORIMER @ Mansfield Park
ABERDEEN GRAMMAR have been on death row for quite some time, but at Mansfield Park, in an almost theatrical backdrop of gloom-laden weather, their time was finally up in the BT Premiership as Hawick produced an expected high scoreline to confirm relegation for the luckless Rubislaw side.
None of which came as any surprise for Aberdeen Grammar, whose director of rugby, Gordon Thomson, admitted that his club’s situation was made worse by absentees. He said: “We had 22 of our first squad away for today’s match, so we had to try out a number of second XV players. I was satisfied with their commitment”.
As to the future for the Rubislaw men, Thomson is not despondent. “We’ve already recruited well for next season,” he added. “But if we want to have a quality side in Aberdeen the other clubs must buy into this idea. But meanwhile we’re building at youth level where numbers are growing”.
For Hawick, this was a strange game. They, too, had players missing because of a game in Cardiff, bringing into question Murrayfield’s insistence on the match being played on an international day. In the event the stand at Mansfield Park was sparsely populated, recalling the old saw about the crowd being introduced to the team.
The end result, however, added a useful five points to Hawick’s championship points tally and additionally maintained the Greens’ unbeaten home record. But as their coach, Matty Douglas, admitted, it is next week’s game against Marr that really matters.
“We have to win next Saturday to have a chance of a home match in the play-offs. Today I thought we played very well in the second half. The backs did well. We had to bring in four players today from the seconds and they played well. So they will have a chance of playing against Marr,” he said.
In difficult conditions of blustery wind and driving rain Hawick were quickly off the mark after dominating play with pressure rugby that ended with scrum-half Gareth Welsh going over for an early try, converted by Kirk Ford.
To their credit Aberdeen tried to shake off their underdog tag with solid defence and were rewarded for committed play with a penalty goal by Patrick Ritchie, who minutes later was just off target with a kick from a similar range.
Hawick alway looked likely to strike again, and did so from a series of close-range drives by their forwards, Conor Sutherland finishing off the approach work with a try, again converted by Ford. Then with the first half growing to a close, Hawick clocked their third try, this time Shaun Fairbairn showing soft hands in creating the score for skipper Matty Carryer. Yet again Ford added the extras.
The home side did not have to wait long in the second half for the bonus-point try, scored by Bailey Donaldson from a slick pass by Sutherland, and converted by Ford. Calum Renwick was next on the scoresheet with a try from a line-out move, and obligingly Ford slotted the conversion.
Ford then showed vision with a flat cross kick to set up a try in the corner for Sutherland before the stand-off made it six from six off the tee with the conversion goal. Then as Aberdeen’s young guns tired Hawick ran in a further three tries from wing Ronan McKean, flanker Calum Renwick and centre Glen Welsh. Donaldson, who had taken over from the injured Ford, succeeded with one conversion to wrap up the scoring.
Hawick: B Donaldson; M Tait, A Mitchell, Glen Welsh, R McKean; K Ford, Gareth Welsh; S Muir, M Carryer©, R Macleod, R Smith, S Frizzel, C Renwick, C Sutherland, S Fairbairn. Subs: R Hartdegen, T Hope, M Renwick, D Lightfoot, L Gordon-Woolley.
Aberdeen Grammar: S Rutledge; A Fitzgerald, B Renton, C Buchan, D Crawford; D Russell©, P Ritchie; A Glen, S Randall, Y Ahmanache, C Walker, A Robertson, G Robertson, B Inglis, J Burnett. Subs: F Morrison, B Perrigault, J Wallon, M Running, D Benson.
Referee: J Perriam.
Hawick: Tries: Gareth Welsh, Sutherland 2, Carryer, Donaldson, C Renwick 2, McKean, Glen Welsh. Cons: Ford 6, Donaldson.
Aberdeen Grammar: Pen: Ritchie.
Scoring sequence (Hawick first): 5-0, 7-0, 7-3, 12-3, 14-3, 19-3, 21-3 half-time, 26-3, 28-3, 33-3, 35-3, 40-3, 42-3, 47-3, 49-3, 54-3, 59-3.
Man-of-the-Match: Connor Sutherland has made the transition from youth rugby to the senior game with accomplished ease and against Aberdeen he showed yet again why he was unlucky to miss out on selection for the Scotland under-20 squad. There could still be time for a call-up.
Talking point: To say that it’s been a tough season for Aberdeen Grammar is a gross understatement. Despite their denial that travelling is a factor it most surely must be. It’s worth recalling that geographically the next furthest north side in this season’s Premiership is Edinburgh Accies. Aberdeen have promised to regroup but there will still be same level of travelling in National One and it will take something extra to make their way through that league.