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Gala 15 Aberdeen Rugby 5

Published - 3 March 2019

Aberdeen Grammar dropped out of the top six in National 1 after a poor display in Saturday’s 15-5 reverse at Gala.

It was a scrappy game, played in foul, wet weather and officiated over by a referee who demonstrated little sensitivity to the tricky conditions.

But to blame referee John Evans for the quality of the game would be to duck the real issue of the day which was the disappointing display by a Rubislaw outfit who were unable to gel as a unit against a streetwise Gala side. Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor said: “This was an error-strewn performance which we tried to put right at half time but still they continued after the break.

“It just wasn’t a good day for us. Our big players didn’t put in an appearance, although front rowers Andrew Cook and Matt Schosser both played well and were probably our most incisive runners.

“Our lone try scorer Ewan Stewart was probably our best ball carrier, otherwise it was a bad day.

“The guys know that and will have to lift themselves for three more big games, all against sides beneath us in the division.

“We also have semi-final in the National League Cup at the end of the month at Kelso.”

For Grammar to claim a top six slot in National League 1 and a final place at Lasswade, they will need to find the form which saw them launch the season with a blistering 68-point win against leaders Jed-Forest.

The three games in the league should all yield maximum points, depending on which Grammar side turns up against Hamilton (h), Cartha Queens Park (a) and Dundee (h).

The game got under way just as the cold rain swept in and with Grammar falling foul of referee Evans in the opening minutes, it was set to be a long hard afternoon for the northern visitors.

Winger Ross Cooke kicked a fourth minute penalty to ease his side into a lead they never looked like losing, given the lack of enterprise in the Grammar side who were clearly bemused by the number of times the home side were allowed to stray offside.

But while the visitors were less than inspiring, the home side were no great shakes themselves, taking 38 minutes to score their first try after heavy pressure on the Grammar line. Stand-off John Turnbull cashed in on one of the few flowing moves of the day to nip over the line for a try which was converted by Cooke to give his team a 10-0 lead at the break.

Boosted by the try, Gala kept up the pressure in the early stages of the second half, getting their reward in 49 minutes when flanker Steve Cairns plundered the Grammar line for a touchdown Cooke failed to convert but at 15-0, the game was all but over.

To the surprise of most, Grammar rallied and when Stewart crashed over the home line, the small but vociferous band of travelling support had hopes of a comeback. It was not to be, as their team faded. Greig Ryan, the Grammar number eight, said: “We weren’t organised, but we’ll get ourselves in shape for our important run in of games.”

(c) Jack Nixon

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