Aberdeen Grammar produced the goods when it mattered most, putting a poor run of results behind them to beat GHA at Rubislaw and thus save themselves from relegation.
With three games to go, Grammar’s victory sends Howe of Fife and Hamilton down to National 2.
Grammar captain and winger Grant Walker scored their fourth try to claim a priceless bonus point.
He said: “This was a totally committed effort. Even when we got things wrong, we were able to sort them. It’s a great relief to save our season. We really should never have been in this situation.”
Walker organised his young back division while putting in the big hits to repel a GHA side that never gave up and kept the nervous home supporters on their toes.
Grammar coach Ali O’Connor said: “Even when we win we make hard work of it. Perhaps one day we will put in an entire 80 minutes. But it was a good, deserved win, full of excellent performances. Our set-pieces were good. We’ll now enjoy our last three games.”
Grammar set the tone by taking the early plays to GHA. They earned two penalties, kicked by centre Tom Aplin. Stand off Sam Knudson dropped a superb 35-yard goal in 15 minutes. A pushover try was attributed to lock Robin Cessford, converted by Knudson, to make it 16-0 and at that stage it looked like the visitors might be over-run.
But as has been the Grammar way, they eased off, allowing the Braidholm side back into the game. Full back Grant Mollinson strolled through a poor defence for a try which was converted by Andrew Goudie.
Before the break, Grammar added unconverted tries by Aplin and flanker Matt McCall.
But the fragile home defence had been caught out between those two scores when GHA winger Jonathon Hamilton-Potter scored in the corner and Goudie added the extras. The sides turned round at half-time with Grammar leading 26-14.
The second half belonged to the Rubislaw men, though it took them until the 61st minute to add to their tally when Walker plunged over to give Aplin an easy kick under the posts to make it 33-14.
GHA hit back with tries from winger Andrew Spowart and replacement Chris Rome, one of which was converted.
But it was Aplin who had the last word with a late penalty to make the game safe.
Grammar had heroes all over the pitch. In the front row Ross Anderson was a tireless worker, as was flanker McCall, whilst Knudson had his best game in a Grammar jersey.
© Jack Nixon
Aberdeen Rugby; Doug Russell; Grant Walker, Matt Arnold, Tom Aplin, Calum Ruxton; Sam Knudson, Luke Gray; Ross Anderson, Fergus McKenzie, Rob Ellinson; Aaron Robertson, Robin Cessford; Matt McCall, Connal Howard, Chris Jollands.
Replacements: Shane Clark, Christian Brew, Jordan Robertson, Dom Wallen, Bryn Perrott.
GHA: Grant Mollinson; Andrew Spowart, Ben Addison, Ross Finlay, Jonathon Hamilton-Potter; Andrew Goudie, Peter Jericevich; Tony Brogan, Seitaro Usada, Michael Scott; Adam Kerr, Adam Barnett; Dario Ewing, Ross Angus, Grant MacDonald.
Replacements: Gordon Campbell, Calum Braid, Jamie Auld, Chris Rome, Cameron King.