14 April 2012
Aberdeen Grammar came within one score of a first ever place in the final of Melrose Sevens after an astonishing run to the semis of the prestigious Border tournament where they pushed the eventual winners Saracens all the way, battling back from 19 points down to close in on the possibility of a famous win.
In a pulsating match that had the 12,000 crowd on its feet the Rubislaw side clawed their way back into the game, running in three tries after looking a little stage struck in the early stages of the tie against the reigning English league champions.
Captain Greig Ryan led the fightback with Grammar's opener to which Steve Aitken added a second try, setting the scene for the Aberdeen side's man of the tournament Murray Douglas to sprint through a panic struck Saracens defence to make it 19 - 17.
A shock looked on the cards, only for the London professionals to break out and score a late try to win the match 26 - 17 before going on to dispose of Border favourites Jed - Forest 50 - 21 in the final.
In its opening game against Hawick, 28 time winners of the Ladies Cup, Grammar had to overcome the handicap of having scrum half Morgan Ward red carded for a tip tackle, making him the first player in the 129 year old history of the tournament to be sent off.
The dismissal of Ward did not interrupt the progress of the organised, talented Aberdeen side who went on to win 26 - 0, inspired by the free running of Aitken, Douglas, William Wardlaw, Erlend Oag and former Melrose player Callum Anderson who along with Ryan had coached the side in the run up to the tournament.
In the second round Grammar brushed aside the puny challenge of guest side Singapore, running in eight tries, the best of which came from the amazing Douglas.
The 22 year old Fifer was a revelation, running at the right angles with pace not normally associated with lock forwards to help rout the guests 49 - 0.
A 34 - 7 win in the quarter - finals against London Scots, another of the much vaunted guest sides, under lined the hope of going all the way, especially as Douglas continued to impress with two more tries.
Captain Ryan like every member of the squad was thrilled with the performance. ''The guys were just fantastic, doing all that was asked of them. We played like a unit, though Murray was outstanding.His five tries were awesome We can build on this and take the form into our fifteen - a - side game,'' he said.
Even in defeat there were smiles all round from the talented squad who had sent out a clear message that sevens know how is not confined to the Borders.
21 touchdowns in four games said it all for the joyous squad who were shrugging off the bad memories of first round exits for the club at the home of the abbreviated game.
© 2012 Jack Nixon
Reproduced with permission from the Press & Journal.
Team: Steven Aitken, Erlend Oag, Will Wardlaw, Callum Anderson, Rob Aloe, Morgan Ward, Murray Douglas, Greig Ryan, Fraser Lyle, Ally O'Connor.