Aberdeen Grammar recorded a crucial win against Hamilton but head coach Ali O’Connor knows his players are fighting for survival in National 1.
Rubislaw was not for the faint of heart on Saturday as Grammar raced into an early lead only to find themselves hanging on for the win in a fraught finale.
O’Connor said: “We made hard work of a game we looked to have won hands down after easing into a 22-3 lead just after half-time. But for some reason we handed Hamilton the initiative and were hanging on at the end. There were positives, including us moving up a place in the league to eighth, and scoring four tries, but it was annoying to have given away a losing bonus point to one of our fellow strugglers.
“We now need to prepare for a big derby game in Dundee next week.”
Grammar took their time asserting themselves on a poor quality game which lacked sparkle from beginning to end, even if the long-suffering home crowd had seven tries to savour.
The pick of the scores came in the 15th minute when winger Calum Ruxton raced clear of the Hamilton defence after fine play from his fellow backs in answer to Andrew Wilson’s early penalty for the visitorsADVERTISING
When locks Matt McCall and Aaron Robertson added further touchdowns for Grammar just before the interval, both converted by centre Tom Aplin, it looked all over bar the shouting, especially after Aplin kicked a penalty just after half-time to widen the gap at 22-3.
Inexplicably, Grammar eased off, allowing the visitors to get back into the game through tries from replacement James Howatson and flanker Scott Alexander just before the hour mark but both touchdowns were missed by full back Wilson.
Grammar seemed to shake off their lethargy, hitting back with a well-taken try from veteran winger Grant Walker to apparently make the game safe at 27-13 in the 65th minute only for the visitors to rally and score a converted try in 75 minutes, attributed to Ben Plant a late replacement for Hamilton.
The score made for a very uncomfortable last five minutes.
Aplin should have been able to deny the visitors a losing bonus point but pushed a last-minute penalty wide of the posts, making for a poor end to a poor game.
On this form Hamilton look doomed to go down but whether they are to be accompanied by Grammar, bottom side Howe of Fife, or Musselburgh remains to be seen.
Scrum half Andrew Ovenstone played his last game for Aberdeen Grammar before heading for New Zealand to work, capping his day with a solid game, one of the few successes in the home back division
© Jack Nixon
Aberdeen Rugby: Doug Russell; Grant Walker, Alex Ratcliffe (c), Tom Aplin, Calum Ruxton; Sam Knudson, Andrew Ovenstone; Rob Ellinson, Fergus McKenzie, Colin Neilson; Aaron Robertson, Matthew McCall; Robin Cessford, Dom Wallen, Christian Brew.
Replacements: Shane Clark, Calum Sangster, Jordan Robertson, Jake Gray, Ross Anderson.
Hamilton: Andy Wilson; Craig Skilling, Ross Jamieson, Mark Wallace, Craig Inglis; Owen McLeish, Steven Turnbull; Taz McLaughlin, Ross McQueen, Morgan Martin; Jordan McLean, Ryan Butcher; Scott Alexander, Robert Brown, Frazer Dunnachie.
Replacements: David McGrath, Tony Malley, Josh White, James Howatson, Russell Virtue.