Aberdeen Grammar 25
JACK NIXON @ Rubislaw
THIS was never going to be anything else but a closely, even fiercely, fought affair between the league’s two bottom sides, both set on making a point, despite being well below full-strength going into the closing stages of their campaigns.
Grammar desperate to prove they are better than their one win of the season, while Selkirk were keen to distance themselves from the Rubislaw side who started the day 13 points behind the Borderers, and determined to record a double against the Aberdonians, having beaten them 36-10. at Philiphaugh in October.
In the event, it was the youngsters of Aberdeen Grammar, inspired by the experienced members of the home team, who rose to the occasion, turning in a second half performance of grit and no little determination to ease to what in the end was a comfortable second win of the campaign.
Scotland set to play Colombia for place in World Cup finals
Munster v Edinburgh: pack power prevails over patchy visitors
A tale of two drop-kicks: Finn Russell versus Dan Biggar
After a rugged, flowing first half, shaded 1917 by Grammar, Selkirk disappeared as an acting force to tamely surrender to the more aggressive home side, much to the disappointment of head coach Scott Wight.
“Grammar wanted it more than us,” he reflected. “We just couldn’t get our hands on the ball. It was most discouraging but the good news is we will still be in the Premiership next season by which time hopefully all our injury problems will have cleared up.”
Not surprisingly, the home management team were elated by the rare win and can look forward to exiting the league in style in their next and final game at home to Musselburgh on March 5th.
Captain and centre Doug Russell, who had promised the Rubislaw faithful a game to look forward, to said: “This was just the morale-booster we needed before we go into National League One. A repeat against Musselburgh would send us out on a high.”
Grammar made the best of starts, scoring from a forward drive with less than a minute on the clock, attributed to flanker Patrick Mullholland and converted by stand-off Sam Knudson, who went to orchestrate the home performance.
Selkirk were well up to the challenge, and while their equalising penalty try looked to be a soft award on 13 minutes, there was nothing doubtful about the two tries scored by the visitors in the next 15 minutes as the Philiphaugh outfit threatened to take control, racing into a 7-17 lead. Centre Ben Pickles raced over for the first effort, followed quickly by another from full-back Callum Anderson.
But Grammar regrouped, and were rewarded when a loose pass was intercepted by the ever alert Knudson who nipped in the make it 17-12.
Knudson had failed to convert his own try but made amends not long later when he added the extras to winger Craig Shepherd’s try to make it 19-17 at half-time.
Inexplicably, the Borders side faded out of the game in the second period, never threatening the home line against an Aberdeen side who had no intentions of losing. The hosts added two penalties from the boot of Knudson to the delight of a raucous home crowd, not used to leading going into the final stages of a game.
Well marshalled by their excellent No 8 Corey Buchan and shored up by their equally excellent centre Sam Ryan, the home side comfortably saw out time.
Aberdeen Grammar: S Rutledge; C Shepherd, D Russell, S Ryan, B Renton; S Knudson, M Running; Y Ahmananache, G Robertson, L Buchan, C Walker, C McCall, P Mullholland, B Inglis. C Buchan. Subs used: A Glen, J Burnett, S Renfrew, A Fitzgerald, A McFarlane
Selkirk: C Anderson; C McNeil, B Pickles, R Nixon, A Penman; S Clark, E McVicker. L Pettie, J Bett, Z Szwagraz, A McColm, D Broach, R Cook, J Turnbull, E McDougall. Subs used: T Maguire, M Haldane, B Shiel, A McColm, G Nicol.
Referee: Calum Worsley
Aberdeen Grammar: Tries: Mullholland, Knudson, Shepherd; Cons: Knudson 2; Pens: Knudson 2.
Selkirk: Tries: Pickles, Anderson, Penalty Try.
Scoring sequence (Aberdeen first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-7; 7-12; 7-17; 12-17; 17-17; 19-17 (h-t) 22-17; 25-17.
Man-of-the-Match: Almost all the candidates came from Grammar (bar Selkirk centre Ben Pickles who tried his utmost to bring his colleagues to life) an it was Sam Knudson who just shaded his No 8 Corey Buchan for the honours.
Talking Point: What might Grammar have achieved had they made a better start to their season or avoided their disastrous run of injuries in an otherwise season to forget?