Aberdeen Grammar ended a successful season on a high at Stirling, beating Highland to lift the National League Cup.
There was unconfined joy among their large travelling support at securing their first national silverware since the Intergrated Trophy in 2003, matched by an exuberant, noisy following from Inverness.
But on the pitch Grammar ultimately ran out 26-10 winners, despite trailing by 10 points after 20 minutes.
The initially on-fire Highland team just didn’t have the required muscle to get past the bustling Rubislaw side as the game wore on, especially as centre Tom Aplin was in such dominant form.
The abrasive Aplin’s late try finally put paid to the gallant efforts of the Inverness side, who like their Aberdeen counterparts have enjoyed a step up in the national leagues.
Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor was delighted to have ended the season in glory, but paid tribute to his opposite number Dave Carson, saying: “We expected them to come at us in the first minutes, but we survived the early whirlwind, and ended the game in a dominant position.
“It’s been a great season.”
For forwards coach Iain Stanger, it was a day of mixed emotions, having started his career with Highland.
He said: “I am so pleased for the Grammar pack, but just a bit sorry for Highland who put so much into the game.
“It was a great contest.”
Grammar were put to the test by the up-for-it Canal Park side early on.
They were all over an error-strewn Granite City outfit, who lost 10 points up on the back of a penalty and a converted try, but regained their composure to score two converted tries in four minutes to lead 14-10 after a frenzied opening 25 minutes.
Not surprisingly, the pace of the game dropped in the second half, enabling Grammar to take control, while denying the Highlanders quality ball.
Despite their second half dominance, Grammar only managed two touchdowns, but it was enough to see them through and end a great season for them.
The downside of the day was a poor performance from referee John Shaw, who failed to demonstrate the necessary authority the feisty occasion demanded.
At Inverurie, Garioch were promoted to Caley Division 1 after seeing off nearest challengers in Caley 2 North, Mackie FPs, beating them 50-22.