Aberdeen Grammar had to rely on an added-time try and conversion to win a thrilling derby at Mayfield which should have been put to bed by the visitors long before a stunning climax brought the game to life in the closing 10 minutes.
Trailing 13-7, Dundee High looked set to tamely hand Grammar an opening win of the season. But, to the delight of the small but vociferous crowd, they rallied to go within one point of the Rubislaw side’s score after scrumhalf Andy Dymock crashed over for an unconverted try. Dundee then surged ahead with the best try of the day, scored and converted by full back Nick Alston.
The Aberdeen coaching team of Stuart Corsar and Ali O’Connor could scarcely believe their eyes, but to their credit Grammar’s players found the energy and will to deny Dundee’s new coach, former Caithness coach Colin Sangster, a dream start to his Mayfield career.
After two minutes of frenzied action deep into added time, centre Conor Lavery raced over to make it 19-18, leaving stand off Alex Hagart with an easy conversion to win the game with the last kick of the afternoon.
Hagart rose to the occasion, slotting the conversion with consummate ease, adding to his tally two earlier penalties and a conversion, proving to be grammar’s most valuable player in a generally entertaining game.
“It was hard to take, but we made too many mistakes,” said Sangster, while his opposite number Corsar was less than happy with the manner in which his side had surrendered the lead.
He said: “Yes it’s a win and we’ll take four points, but we lacked composure at key moments and were the victims of our own indiscipline.
“Having forwards Ali Mackie and Duncan Massey sin-binned just before half-time could have cost us dear, but there were some good performances and some players put their hands up when it mattered. I don’t think we would have had it in us to come back in this way last season.
“It’s a good omen for the rest of the season.”
Centre Peceli Nacamavuto was in sparkling form for the visitors, opening the scoring in 10 minutes after a searing break from Mackie. Hagart added the extras before making it 10-0 through a 20th minute penalty.
Dundee then cashed in on the yellow cards, scornig a penalty try to make it 10-7 at the interval which became 13-7 immediately after the break when Hagart kicked his second penalty, setting the game up for its amazing climax.
The win enabled Grammar to reclaim the Allardice Trophy which is played for every time these clubs meet.
© Jack Nixon
Reproduced with the permission of the Press & Journal
Dundee High: Nick Alston; Blair Cochrane, Neil Herron, Ross Lemon, Ronan Joy; Josh Rutnagur, Andy Dymock: Gav Robertson, Darrel Russell, Alan Brown (c); Ian Robertson, James Mulligan; Peter Redmayne, George Arnott, Gav Hughan.
Replacements: Neil Dymock, Anthony Kent, Ryan Milne, Johnny Petty, Callum Bowie.
Aberdeen Grammar: Ali Addy; Grant Walker, Peceli Nacamavuto, Conor Lavery, Jamie Gilmour; Alex Hagart, Morgan Ward (c): Duncan Massey, Stuart Davies, Chris Prentice; Stuart Smith, Hamilton Burr; Ali Mackie, Chris Jollands, Tony McGinness.
Replacements: Billy Bisset, Colin Neilson, Aron Robertson, Tom Aplin.