Rugby: Aberdeen Grammar look to keep up good work as second half of season gets going

Grammar's Alex Ratcliffe with Jed-Forest Monty Mitchell.

Aberdeen Grammar get their National League 1 programme up and running tomorrow, keen to build on their top-four placing in the first half of the season.

For head coach Ali O’Connor, a trip to the Borders to take on Kelso represents an opportunity for his side to consolidate their position. But he is still urging caution.

He said: “There is a growing confidence in the team, based on some sound performances in the latter part of 2017.

“But a visit to the Borders is always difficult.

“They’ll be keen to burst our bubble, while extracting revenge for the 44-24 defeat up here in September.

“It will be like starting a new season, but I am pretty sure we’re up for it,” said O’Connor.

There are likely to be a number of changes in the Aberdeen line-up, with lock Robin Cessford and utility back Sam Knudson unable to travel.

The return of captain and outside centre Alex Ratcliffe is a major boost for the Border raiders.

The Poynder Park side have the added incentive of bidding to free themselves from any lingering thoughts of relegation, allied to fear of having Grammar record a notable double.

At Countesswells, Gordonians will be bidding for a double of their own when Haddington come calling on National League 3 business.

Head coach Ryan Morrice said: “After our great performance away to Orkney just before Christmas, there is a feelgood factor in the team.

“Should we repeat our 15-0 win achieved at Haddington’s ground, we can start planning our strategy for next season.

“But our visitors will also have targeted this game, so it could be quite a contest.

“We picked up a number of knocks in the Exiles versus the Aberdeen Select game, but we should have a clean bill of health.”

Caley 3 North leaders Ellon entertain Highland 2nds at the Meadows after an inspiring run in 2017.

This sequence was sparked off by a change of attitude in the Aberdeenshire side last March, since when they have only lost two games.

Head coach Sam Mountain was delighted his charges had risen to the occasion and said: “The commitment of the players has been phenomenal. We are fitter and totally up for it, as witness our involvement in both the league and the Regional Bowl.

“But Highland have some quality players who are knocking on the door for places in Highland’s National League 3 side.”

North Scotland Police can extend their lead in Caley 3 North at home to Moray 2nds.