Rugby: Aberdeen Grammar coach Ali takes heart as FPs fall out of blocks

Aberdeen Grammar's Bryn Perrott in action.

Aberdeen Grammar failed to make it a Border treble against promotion-seeking Jed-Forest after giving the home side a head start of 33-7 at Riverside Park.

However, Grammar battled back to claim a precious losing-try bonus point after losing 40-26.

Head coach Ali O’Connor was pleased with his side’s fighting qualities.

O’Connor said: “Our understrength squad were outplayed in the early stages of the game but gained in stature as the game went on.

“Some of our replacements were outstanding, including winger Liam Buchan who came on and scored a fine try.

“Full back Craig Shepherd was rightly adjudged our man of the match after a sterling game at full back, while James Palmer marked his debut at scrum half with a promising performance.

“Prop Colin Neilson sparked off our fight-back with a great driving try.

“We were up against a good Jed team who will be in the National League 1 play-offs while we kept our hopes of a top four place alive after picking up out a losing bonus point for scoring four tries, which at one point did not look possible.”

Grammar hit back in the second half with tries from wingers Matt Arnold and Grant Walker and replacement Buchan.

With stand-off Bryn Perrott, slotting three conversions, the Riverside Park side were given a harder game than this had first imagined, being outscored by three tries to one in the second half.

In Dumfries and Galloway, Gordonians overcame an horrendous, eight-hour journey to play with Newton Stewart with only 15 players to come within 10 minutes of shocking the National League 3 leaders.

Countesswells coach Ryan Morrice said: “This was a character performance which probably deserved a better outcome.

“We had five props in our front five, but still made a game of it. We were only five minutes away from collecting a losing bonus point at 26-19 but the guys were out on their feet by the end of the game.”

The Aberdeen side scored three tries, through Steve Whittet, Graeme Crawford and Tom Williams who added to his remarkable total of 18 for the season. Crawford added two conversions to make it a day to remember for Gordonians, albeit one with nothing to show for their efforts.

In the best of the Caledonia action, Garioch blew the Caley 2 North title race wide open, easing past leaders Ellon after a convincing, but narrow 24-18 win at Kellands Park.

Ellon coach Sam Mountain said: “We are still in charge of our destiny with a game in hand of Garioch, but this was a wake up call for us. There’s still a lot of rugby to be played.”

Garioch coach Dave Duguid said: “This opens the door for us. It was a great advert for rugby.”