Aberdeen seized a 20 - 22 victory at the death against Cartha Queens Park in an end-to-end dogfight at a blustering Dumbreck Park.
Aberdeen continued their run of away victories in a stop-start, closely contested game that saw both sides fighting throughout.
The winning side struggled against a howling gale and a strong aggressive Cartha forwards pack to implement their usual wide running game. However, they left victorious after a gritty final 10-minute performance, which in previous seasons would have been too large a task for the men from Aberdeen.
Aberdeen sprung right off the blocks and after only 30 seconds of play, forced a Cartha penalty right in front of the posts. The subsequent kick at goal was missed, but it was obvious that the 3-hour bus journey had done little to impact the Rubislaw men’s energy.
The next 10 minutes saw both sides making multiple handling errors as they attempted to get to grips with the damp and windy conditions at Dumbreck. Aberdeen were first to capitalise on a mistake. An Aberdeen scrum inside the Cartha 22 allowed Ewan Stewart to barrel over from close range giving the visitors a 7-point advantage.
Aberdeen increased their lead to 14 points off the back of another scrum. This time they went wide with winger Grant Walker being caught just short, only for him to pop it up from the deck into the waiting hands of Captain Alex Ratcliffe.
Cartha finally found their footing in the final 12 minutes of the half. Their first try came from multiple phases of hard direct running finished with a pass wide for winger Pierre Piccardi to dive over and record their first points of the game. The second came just before halftime as the wind nudged an Aberdeen lineout into the home sides hands with Cartha number 7 Callum Spriddle capitalizing and dotting the ball down to finish the half only 5 points adrift.
Half-time Cartha Queens Park 12 – 17 Aberdeen Rugby
After the break, both sides continued to struggle to take the conditions into account. Cartha were the first to pounce this time and reduced the Aberdeen lead to only 2 points after Aberdeen were deemed to have collapsed a scrum.
Cartha’s confidence grew and they finally found their stride. They peppered the Aberdeen defence with multiple hard, straight runs, methodically working up the park towards the Aberdeen line. Spriddle dove over to find his second and gave Cartha a 3-point lead with 15 minutes to go.
It was now Aberdeen’s turn to go on the offensive. For the next 10 minutes, the men from Rubislaw repeatedly tried to find a hole in the home sides defence. The visitor's grit and persistence finally paid off, when with only 3 minutes to go, Grant Walker, once again tackled short, popped the ball up to Calum Ruxton sending him over the whitewash. The subsequent conversion was missed giving the visitors a 2 point lead with only minutes to spare.
Aberdeen collected the restart well and kept the ball close utilising slow pick and go’s for the final few minutes to grind out the victory and walk away with 4 points from the encounter. Coach Kevin Wyness’ tweet after the match summed up the game well, “That’s the get oot o jail card played. Thanks to Cartha for a physical game.”
Full-time Cartha Queens Park 20 – 22 Aberdeen Rugby
Aberdeen are back on home soil next week as they take on Dundee HSFP in the first leg of the Dally Allardice Trophy.
Aberdeen Rugby First XV: Alex Ratcliffe (c), Grant Walker, Nathan Clough, Murray Mitchell, Nat Coe, Bryn Perrott, Jake Gray, Rob Ellinson, Calum Reddish, Matthias Schosser, Aaron Robertson, Ewan Stewart, Drew Whitehead, Alec Dravitski, Greig Ryan.
Replacements: Ross Anderson, Peter Gillies, Ethan Murray, Calum Ruxton, Sam Knudson
Cartha Queens Park First XV: Andy Scott, Anthony Nyanhweso, Ewen Campbell (c), Dave Goudie, Pierre Piccardi, Wayne Burrows, Graeme Docherty, David Irvine, Fraser Paul, Juan Phyfer, Matt Gray, Graham Williamson, Callum Spriddle, Calum Dickson, Michael Robertson
Replacements: Michael Downer, Shabaz Khan, Ethan Paterson, Peter Hollier, Liam Howieson
The P&J match report can be found here: https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/sport/rugby/1349881/drama-death-ruxton-steals-grammar/