All the drama of semi-finals day

Six teams have this afternoon booked their place for the excitement of RBS Finals Day at Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld on Saturday 19 April, joining the two women's finalists from Murrayfield Wanderers and Melrose.

The RBS Bowl Final will be between Highland and St Boswells after the former saw off Uddingston 27-13, while the latter also won away from home accounting for Glenrothes 28-13.

The RBS Shield Final will see Caithness – 22-17 conquerors of Berwick – meet Preston Lodge, who pipped Irvine in a close-knit affair 12-6.

And the RBS Cup Final will be contested by two teams who also won away in their semi-final – Heriot’s (20-16 victors against Aberdeen Grammar Rugby) and Glasgow Hawks, courtesy of a last minute Jack Steele penalty rounding off a fine comeback 33-31 against Gala.

Hard-fought

It was a hard-fought spectacle at Rubislaw which saw both sides having to rely on the boot of their place-kickers for the majority of their points.

Heriot’s head coach, Phil Smith, said: “I’d rather have won easier, but there were a lot of nerves out there.

“We were looking to do a bit more, but Aberdeen defended with everything they had. I thought we dug in and got a good result.”

The game kicked off with Heriot’s immediately showing their dominance in attack. However, some initiative from Aberdeen’s Glasgow Warriors professional, Byron McGuigan, saw him answer with an interception try between the posts, which was converted by Rob Aloe.

Not to be downhearted, Heriot’s piled on the pressure, keeping Aberdeen stuck in their 22. Mistakes in the ruck and scrum saw scrum-half, Graham Wilson, score two penalties in quick succession.

Aberdeen fought their way back up the pitch, but crossing the line proved impossible, with the home side having to settle for a penalty from Rob Aloe.

Heriot’s continued to show skill in attack, using their forwards to punch holes in the Aberdeen defence, which was short-handed after Scotland under-20 lock Andy Cramond was yellow carded.

 After a period that saw the capital side camped deep in the opposition’s 22, lock Murray Douglas (pictured above) crossed the line in the corner against his former club for Wilson to convert.

HT Aberdeen Grammar 10-13 Heriot’s

The start of the second half saw McGuigan scoring a penalty for Grammar before long. First-half themes continued, with Heriot’s imposing themselves on the home side and looking deadly at the breakdown.

Hard-running

A lineout on Aberdeen’s 22 saw Douglas make a break for Heriot’s and some fast ball and hard running allowed Ben Toolis to cross the line in the opposite corner with another conversion from Wilson.

Aberdeen upped their game and battled their way up the park for Aloe to put another penalty through the posts.
A thrilling closing 15 minutes saw both teams going hard at each other with Glasgow Warriors pros Kevin Bryce and Fraser Brown showing their experience with some crunching tackles and hard running.

Some excellent attacking play from Aberdeen, which culminated with a break from captain Greig Ryan in the final play, made it look like they were going to come back for a win, but a knock-on saw the whistle blow full-time with the score 16-20.

Aberdeen Grammar: Stevie Aitken; Erlend Oag, Byron McGuigan, Will Wardlaw, Angus Rennie; Rob Aloe, Morgan Ward; Nicki Fraser, Fraser Brown, Struan Cessford, Andy Cramond, Jamie Metcalfe, Greig Ryan, Tony McGinniss and Tom Preece.

Substitutes: Mike Cox, Matt Schosser, Matt McCall, Ally Mackie, Sam Knudson, Mark Ryan and Jamie Lauder.

Heriot’s: Colin Goudie; Liam Steele, Keith Buchan, Cammy Ferguson, Harry Boisseau; Rory Carmichael, Graham Wilson; Nathan Borel, Kevin Bryce, Stewart Mustard, Russell Nimmo, Murray Douglas, Jack Turley, Chris Mulligan and Jason Hill.

Substitutes: Craig Owenson, George Turner, Ben Toolis, Jack Maclean, Jamie Syme, Max Nimmo and OJ Brown.

Referee: James Matthew

Meanwhile at Bothwell Castle Policies, Uddingston, champions of West Regional League Division 3, faced Highland, with a 100% record as champions of Caledonia Regional League Division 2 North, in the RBS Bowl semi-final.

Highland opened strongly and, with the elements in their favour, had notched two tries within the opening ten minutes through Darren McLeod and Rory Cross.

They probably would have added to their tally but for the fact that Uddingston’s defence re-grouped and that the home side’s scrum recovered from a shaky start to function at least as well as their lineout for a period.

Too lateral

Highland tended to drift across field in attack but some purposeful straightening before the break saw No 8 Gareth High score their third try.

From a 0-15 half-time deficit, Uddingston, were quick to post second-half points with prop James Brown  - don’t be fooled by his No 22 jersey – bruising over from close-range for a try which stand-off Gordon Burns converted sweetly from close to the right touchline.

Burns then landed two penalties as Highland found themselves on the wrong end of a succession of penalties given by the substitute referee Tom McNicol, who had replaced Andy Summers after the latter appeared to sustain an injury.  Summers had impressed this observer in the first-half by very much operating to the maxim that he was number 31 on the park.

The scoreline was now 13-15 but Highland rediscovered their zip and finished with two fine tries – the first from centre Tam McGowan off a pop pass from his fellow centre Cross while they were short-handed with Eamon Guinan in the sin-bin; and the second from substitute winger Dave Titteringham on the overlap. Craig Irvine converted McGowan’s try to leave the final score at 27-13 in Highland’s favour.

Uddingston: Liam Quinn; Chris Latta, Jamie McPherson captain, Neil Convery, Tom Hughes; Gordon Burns, Richie Murray; James Brown, Paul Kincaid, Ruairidh West, Stewart MacKay, Donald Haldane, Stuart Beresford, Ross McKeown and David McKelvie.

Subs: Bobby Clelland, Mikey McKeown, Colin Gardener, Andy Paterson, Garry McGill, Keith Bradley and Connor Bradley.

Highland: Richard Sim; Craig Findlater, Tam McGowan, Rory Cross, Darren McLeod; Scott Fraser, Craig Little; Stephen Murray, Kevin Brown captain, Sinclair Patience, Nathan McLaughlin, James Taylor, Paddy Bryden, Eamon Guinan and Gareth High.

Subs: Callum Carson, Johnny Milton, Stuart Watson, Craig Irvine, Matt Allan, Dave Titteringham and Laurie Cuthbertson.

Referee: Andy Summers.