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Aberdeen Rugby 34 Hamilton 17

Published - 19 March 2019

Aberdeen Grammar surged into fourth place in National League 1, taking advantage of being only one of two games played in the division due to extreme weather in the rest of Scotland, but with two relatively easy games to play look poised to claim a top six place.

Hamilton proved to be worthy opponents, even although the Lanarkshire side are only two points above the relegation area on a day of foul, cold sleet which was not conducive to running rugby, but despite the conditions, there was some fine open rugby, yielding six home tries.

Grammar head coach Ali O'Connor was happy with the outcome, but said: ''We made a good start, scoring four tries in the first half hour, thanks to some fine forward play, but I was less happy with the second half effort in which we only scored one try, allowing Hamilton to add two tries to their first half touchdown, although the appalling conditions did not help. Lock Ewan Stewart was our best ball carrier, getting his reward with an early try. But it's five valuable points, and with games against struggling Cartha Queens Park and Dundee to come, we should grab a place in the top six which has been our target all along.''

Grammar made a rousing start to the game, inspired by an early break from winger Craig Shepherd who took the game to the Hamilton line in three minutes, enabling hooker Andrew Cook to plunge over after a maul, followed by another touchdown from fellow forward Ewan Stewart after an intense spell of home pressure in 18 minutes.

Neither try was converted by full back Bryn Perrott, but with Grammar in the ascendancy, a rout looked on the cards. Hamilton had other ideas, rallying to score one of their own in a flowing move, involving nearly all their back division, and finished off by winger Craig Skilling on the 20 minute mark to make it 10-5.

Stung into retaliation, Grammar scored two tries in the space of five minutes, attributed to flanker Chris Jollands and Perrot, both converted by centre Tom Aplin, giving the home side a welcome try bonus point and a lead of 24-5, effectively ending the game as a contest after 30 minutes.

Centre Murray Mitchell raced through the Laigh Bent defence for an unconverted try just before the half time whistle to make if 29-5.

Helped by a strong, biting cold wind, laced with sleet, Hamilton came more into the game, adding tries through lock Craig Inglis, and replacement Josh White one of which was converted by stand off Tom Decelle, while a very subdued Grammar could only muster one try from lock Robin Cessford in 60 minutes.

The game ended with Hamilton pressing for a vital fourth try, but despite their best efforts, the visitors were unable to salvage something from the game, losing out 34-17.

On this form, and given the lowly status of their next two opponents, Grammar should be able to meet their target of a top six place, especially as the nearest of the challengers Gala and Selkirk meet each other in two weeks time. In the meantime the Rubislaw team head for Glasgow on Saturday where they meet Cartha Queens Park who shocked an understrength Aberdeen side at home earlier in the season.

The spirit and commitment in the Grammar camp was best reflected by Aaron Robertson who despite being out of the team due to injury, volunteered to do gate duty on the most foul of days.

© Jack Nixon

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