Aberdeen Grammar made a bold bid to put behind them the politics of their spat with city neighbours Aberdeenshire following the collapse of the partnership agreement between the clubs – only to come up short in a 10-try Rubislaw thriller against Jed-Forest.
It was Border tenacity which won the day, as acknowledged by Grammar’s stand-in coach Iain Stanger.
Stanger was, however, in no doubt his charges had wasted an opportunity.
He said: “This was one that got away for, despite matching Jed out wide where we had centres Nat Coe and Nathan Clough performing wonders with Matt Arnold on the wing, we failed to match Jed’s aggression and streetwise approach to what was an entertaining game of rugby.
“Our discipline also let us down, though I thought replacement back Murray Mitchell was unlucky to get a yellow card, effectively costing us the game.
“We lost two tries in his absence but we also contributed to our own downfall by failing to assert ourselves at key times.
“Missing a valuable losing bonus point at the death was also hard to take. We need to learn from this experience.”
On a perfect day for running rugby it was Grammar who enjoyed the best of the early exchanges, though it was the Riverside outfit who took the lead with a breakout in 18 minutes, finished by winger Robbie Shire Gibb.
Stand-off Robbie Yourston added the first of five successful conversions to which he later added two penalties, making him the most potent weapon in the Border side with a personal tally of 16 points.
Grammar hit back after sustained pressure six minutes later when winger Arnold raced over in the corner, giving home stand off Bryn Perrot the chance to demonstrate his place kicking prowess.
The ever-improving number 10 went on to score four of his five kicks at goal – like his opposite number taking full advantage of the perfect conditions.
Jed clocked up a Yourston penalty and a try from number eight Darren Gillespie, which Yourston converted.
Grammar hit back when Clough raced into score and, with Perrott adding the conversion, the game was nicely poised at 17-14 in favour of the Borderers.
Grammar made the best of starts in the second half when Arnold sped over and, with Perrott adding the conversion, the home side led the game for the first time at 21-17.
But tries by Jed prop Paulo Ferreira and replacement Jamie Hynd, both converted by the in form Yourston, made it 31-21 to the visitors
The scoring was not yet done as Coe and Perrott crashed over for the home team.
But Jed were equally up to the challenge, scoring two of their own to ease through in a remarkable game.
Grammar were just shaded by the more determined, if occasionally niggling, Borderers.
Grammar chairman Mike Cox conceded Jed had probably been the better side.
He said: “It was good to get a game of rugby under our belts after the events of last week. We can now concentrate on the franchise for the Super Six in the company of other clubs in the area, including Aberdeenshire.
“I just hope our disagreement last week does not deflect from the push to bring the franchise to the city.”