Aberdeen Grammar completed a disappointing season with a narrow defeat in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, but with a little more luck they might have been heading for a national final at Cumbernauld on April 19.
Not for the first time during this miserable season the Rubislaw men failed to display the necessary composure to overcome an organised team which just about merited the win.
Heriot’s now have a final with Glasgow Hawks, who pipped Gal 33-31 at Netherdale.
Grammar head coach Kevin Wyness said: “I thought we were the better team in the second half. I am desperately disappointed for the players. They couldn’t have put more into the second half.
“I certainly don’t think we were the worst team in the league, but I’ve got to shoulder the responsibility because I am the one in charge.”
There was, in fact, much to admire in Grammar’s bid to rescue something from their misfiring season, especially after being on the back foot for the early part of the game.
Remarkably, Grammar snatched the lead when Glasgow professional Byron McGuigan intercepted a loose pass to run in from 70 yards. Stand off Rob Aloe kicked the conversion to give the home team an unlikely 7-0 lead after eight minutes.
A resolute Edinburgh side hit back in 11 and 18 minutes with well-struck penalties from scrum half Graham Wilson, only for Aloe to push the home side further ahead 10-6 on the half-hour mark
But just when Grammar looked to be taking control, Heriot’s hit back just before the break when former Rubislaw favourite Murray Douglas plundered the home line.
With Wilson adding the conversion’ it was the Goldenacre men who took a 13-10 lead into the interval.
Douglas was quite immense in a big, organised pack, displaying all the skill and flair which made him so popular in his time with the Aberdeen club.
Grammar started the second half with great purpose, getting an immediate reward when McGuigan slotted a long-range penalty to tie the up the scores at 13-13.
It was, however, Heriot’s who went on to win the game on the hour mark when replacement flanker Ben Toolis plunged over on the back of incessant pressure from his pack.
Wilson added the conversion, only for Aloe to close the gap with a late penalty. Had captain and flanker Greig Ryan found his man after a searing break, it might well have been the Aberdeen men going to a national final.
“It was hard to take, only four points short,” said the Grammar captain.
Wyness reflected on a difficult season. The Grammar coach said: “The club has now got to rebuild. It is never the easiest thing to do, but there is some great young talent at the club, including Angus Rennie, Calum Gordon, Cameron Turner and Stuart Smith.”
© Jack Nixon
Aberdeen Grammar: Steve Aitken; Erlend Oag, Byron McGuigan, Will Wardlaw, Angus Rennie; Rob Aloe, Morgan Ward; Nicki Fraser, Fraser Brown, Struan Cessford; Andy Cramond, Jamie Metcalfe; Greig Ryan (c), Tony McGinness, Tom Preece.
Replacements: Mike Cox, Matt Schosser, Matt McCall, Sam Knudson, Jamie Lauder, Ally Mackie, Mark Ryan.
Heriot’s: Colin Goudie; Liam Steele, Keith Buchan, Cammy Ferguson, Harry Boisseau; Rory Carmichael, Graham Wilson; Nathan Borel, Kevin Bryce, Stewart Mustard; Russell Nimmo, Murray Douglas; Jack Turley (c), Chris Mulligan, Jason Hill.
Replacements: Craig Owenson, George Turner, Ben Toolis, Jack Maclean, Jamie Symie, Max Nimmo, OJ Brown.