Aberdeen University 33 Duns 10
Aberdeen University retained the Scottish Hydro Electric Plate Final with a pulsating victory by five tries to one over Duns in the opening action at Murrayfield today.
The students, enjoying a steady stream of possession, and given a stirring lead by their captain, openside Dom Dunnett, were worthy winners, centre Paddy Traylor’s hat-trick of tries leading to his nomination as man of the match.
Dunnett, a law student, has another two years of University to look forward to. “We’ve worked very hard today – the hardest we have all season – and I think the University will be very proud of us,” he said.
Aberdeen brought 13 players back from last year’s final and that experience certainly stood them in good stead. Duns, however, plugged away and showed no shortage of adventure, fully deserving their try in the final quarter and they could possibly have accumulated a couple more if they had profited from two on ones.
Holders Aberdeen University took the lead in the second minute with a penalty from the 22 metre line from their left wing Bret Martin.
A burst from full-back Tom Rattray, who had scored the decisive try in last year’s Plate Final against Portobello, almost uncorked the Duns defence but the ball ballooned forward rendering Martin’s support run void.
Aberdeen continued to dominate, their forwards attempting the pick and drive route to the try line but they were penalised for holding on in the shadow of the Duns posts enabling the Borderers to clear.
The first try was not long delayed however. From a scrum, Duns attempted an intricate backs move. It was read by Aberdeen centre Paddy Traylor, who intercepted about 60 metres out. He linked calmly with Redha Guedroudj on the right wing and then supported to take the return pass for a fine try. Martin converted for a 10-0 lead.
Referee James Matthew had made it clear from the outset that he would be strict on bodies not rolling away after the tackle and he yellow carded Duns centre Scott Lindsay for that offence in the 20th minute.
Almost at once Aberdeen spread ball to the right wing and Duns’ David Hutchison distinguished himself with a try-saving tackle on Guedroudj.
A second score materialised in the 24th minute when captain Dom Dunnett took a ball in midfield in the Duns 22, after Euan Kelly had had a pop, and then arced his run beyond the Duns defence for the try.
Duns did put their first points on the board with an offside penalty from full-back Dale Robertson in the 27th minute but, before the break, the students had added two more unconverted tries – the first through lock James Fearon, taking the scoring pass from his fellow second-row, former Scotland under-18 cap Fraser Galbraith; the second after Traylor had capitalised on a loose ball and scooted up the left touchline.
Duns did have a scoring chance just before half-time but Robertson was short with a penalty attempt from half a metre inside his opponents’ territory.
Half time: Aberdeen University 25 Duns 3
Two players were sin binned during the third quarter – Duns scrum-half Ged Lamb and Aberdeen prop Alexander Purdie – but neither episode could be described as foul play, more of a technical nature.
Traylor completed his hat-trick in the 55th minute, courtesy of another interception but the real credit for this score belong to the indefatigable Dunnett who had pirated possession at the breakdown one metre from his own line.
Still, Traylor could reflect on his man of the match tankard, his nomination endorsed by Scotland and Glasgow Warriors forwards John Barclay and Fergus Thomson in the crowd.
Duns, cheered on by their vocal following, claimed
their first try in the 63rd minute, Hutchison, proving equally as adept in attack as he had in defence, to dot down a crossfield kick. Robertson converted.
Martin had the final word for Aberdeen with a 66th minute penalty so the students held on to their silverware.
Scottish Hydro Electric Man of the Match: Paddy Traylor (Aberdeen University)
Aberdeen University: Tom Rattray; Redha Guedroudj, Michael Hunter, Paddy Traylor, Bret Martin; Euan Kelly, David Reekie; Alexander Purdie, Greig Ramsay, Finlay Hay, James Fearon, Fraser Galbraith, William Yates, Murray Wyllie, Dom Dunnett captain
Subs (all used): Andrew Light, Jack Chillas, Andrew Massie, Alex Jackson, Chris Hunter, Murray Robertson, Kyle Bayliss
Duns: Dale Robertson; Kevin Aitchison, Danny Lamb, Scott Lindsay, David Hutchison; Max Nimmo, Ged Lamb; Allen Whellans, Cameron Hill, Chris Archer, Jacobus Van Wyk James Thorburn, Chris Blaikie, Falaniko Pelasio, Jamie Renton captain
Subs (all used): James Murphy, Keith Davidson, Barry Hamilton, Euan Reed, Marco Crolla, Richard Burns, Richard Darling
Referee: James Matthew (Edinburgh Society)