Aberdeen Grammar’s prospects of avoiding relegation were dealt a hammer blow at Rubislaw on Saturday.
Once again a visiting team was able to snatch a late victory to the anguish of home supporters who are now reconciled to going down, despite having two league games to play.
Title-chasing Melrose were the beneficiaries cashing in on Grammar’s generosity in the final six minutes of an enthralling encounter, scoring two late tries to keep their championship aspirations alive.
“It was disappointing to lose, especially at the death. We were so positive, putting together our best team performance of the season. I am very proud, particularly as we once again won the contest up front against one of the best sides in the Premiership,” said coach Kevin Wyness.
“We also had some superb performances, including teenage flanker Ally Mackie and Tom Preece who threatened to take them on single-handed at one point. But we are not down yet, we must now win against Currie and Glasgow Hawks away from home, while hoping Hawick come a cropper in its two games.”
Melrose had got the afternoon off to a fine start after just five minutes when prop Nicky Little rumbled over for an unconverted try, only for Grammar to rally three minutes later when lock Jamie Metcalfe crashed over for one of his own to tie up the scores.
Home hopes were boosted further when winger Byron McGuigan scored the try of the afternoon, running all of 50 yards to touch down in the corner. The try was unconverted.
The on loan professional from Glasgow Warriors won the approval of home town flanker Tony McGinness who said: “Byron gave us an extra dimension. He had a great afternoon”
McGinness will leave the club at the end of the season to go to New Zealand after enjoying an inspired season with the club.
Grammar, not for the first time this season, surrendered the lead just on the stroke of half-time when flanker Peter Eccles surged over, giving centre Joe Helps an easy conversion to add to an earlier penalty, making in 15-10 at the interval for Melrose.
The visitors quickly built on the lead in 42 minutes when former Grammar favourite Callum Anderson nipped between the posts to give Helps the easiest of kicks.
Grammar hit back and in the space of five minutes had tied up the game after 70 minutes at 22-22 thanks to fine tries from winger Erlend Oag and replacement flanker Sean O’Connor, one of which was converted by stand off Rob Aloe.
Inexplicably the Rubislaw side lost momentum, enabling Melrose to score two late tries through the excellent Helps and full back Austin Lockington, one of which was converted by Helps.
Grammar are now six points adrift of Hawick and must now rely on the Mansfield Park side losing to both Ayr and Heriot’s while winning their own two games, a less than likely outcome.
© Jack Nixon
Aberdeen Grammar: Steve Aitken; Byron McGuigan, Harry Duthie, Greig Ryan, Erlend Oag; Rob Aloe, Morgan Ward; Matt Dixon, Sam Bingham, Struan Cessford; Stuart Smith, Jamie Metcalfe; Ally Mackie, Tony McGinness, Tom Preece.
Replacements: Sean O’Connor, Matt Schosser, Calum Harvey, Jamie Lauder, Will Wardlaw.
Melrose: Austin Lockington; Callum Anderson, Allan Dodds, Joe Helps, Mark Robertson; Richard Mill, Bruce Colvine; Nicky Little, Todd Pearce, Nick Beavon; Lewis Carmichael, James Head; Peter Eccles, Grant Runciman, Andrew Nagle.
Replacements: Richard Ferguson, Gary Holborn, Graeme Dodds, Struan Dewar, Andrew Skeen.
Referee: Andrew McMenemy