Aberdeen Grammar were dragged back near the relegation danger zone at Rubislaw on Saturday when a last-gasp Falkirk drop goal condemned the Granite City club to defeat.
Once again, the Rubislaw men contributed to their demise in failing to defend a 19-point lead built up in a first-half display of domination. But, if the former Caithness player'3 long-range drop goal proved to be a sickener, a thoroughly poor refereeing performance form Steven Turnbull also contributed to the demise of the home side.
When Turnbull carded home hooker Fergus McKenzie just before the hour mark, it was a game-changing decision. At that point Grammar led 26-11 and looked set for a maximum points win. The Rubislaw club officials were at pains not to criticise Turnbull, though the vociferous home supporters were keen to point out that the whistler had got the new high tackle law wrong.
The tackle resulted in 10 minutes in the sin bin for the former Garioch player and Falkirk took full advantage of his absence, scoring two tries to come within three points of the home total. They then went on to tie the scores through a Brims penalty and then took the lead with the same player's sumptuous drop goal.
Turnbull seemed out of his depth as the match progressed, failing to communicate with his own touch judges on key plays.
Grammar started so brightly, running in three tries in the opening 30 minutes from Conor Lavery, Sam Knudson and Dominic Wallen to which centre Tom Aplin added two conversions to lead 19-0.
Fourth-placed Falkirk came to their senses to score an unconverted try, touched down by flanker Andrew McNab just before half-time.
Immediately after the break, Falkirk stand-off Liam Brims kicked two penalties to close the gap to 19-11 only for the powerful Aplin to make it 26-11 with a try and a conversion.
Mayhem then ruled after the dismissal of McKenzie, as first Jake Eaglesham and then winger Gary Dempsey breached the Grammar line.
Brims converted one before closing out the game with his dramatic kicks.
Grammar captain Alex Ratcliffe said: "We were disappointed to lose but I was proud of the players. Had this been in November we would have folded, but we kept going, and had to settle for two losing bonus points. We'' stay up."
Grammar have slipped to ninth place but are seven points clear of the relegation places.
© Jack Nixon
Aberdeen Rugby: Conor Lavery; Doug Russell, Alex Ratcliffe (c), Tom Aplin, Calum Ruxton; Sam Knudson, Jake Gray; Rob Ellinson, Fergus McKenzie, Colin Neilson; Aaron Robertson, Robin Cessford; Christian Brew, Dominic Wallen, Chris Jollands.
Replacements: Ross Anderson, Conall Howard, Matt McCall, Lance Tallett, Matt Arnold.
Falkirk: Glen Faulds; Jacob Adamson, Angus Rennie, Andrew Hamilton, Gary Dempsey; Liam Brims, Harry Russell (c); Kris Burney, Keith Slade, Lewis Skinner; Angus Inwood, Craig Hamilton; Gregor Brodie, Andrew McNab, Jake Eaglesham.
Replacements: Andrew Gillespie, John McKenna, David Stoddart, Kyle Rowe, Craig Robertson.