Aberdeen Grammar defeat Highland in National League Cup Final
Highland and Aberdeen Grammar produced a frantic and frenetic National League Cup Final at Bridgehaugh, Stirling in glorious sunny conditions on Saturday (20 April).
The early phases of play were certainly not for the faint hearted with both sides showing passion and aggression of playing in a national final, vehemently cheered on by their respective supporters.
Rory Carson put the first points on the board for Highland as a number of infringements by the opposition allowed him to stroke over the penalty. (3-0)
Highland then extended their lead in the 19thminute with the first try of the game. Rupeni Rokoduguni’s nifty off-load in the tackle just short of the line allowed Calum Carson to run in under the posts. Rory Carson added the extras (10-0).
Suddenly Aberdeen came springing into to life with the two tries in the space of 5 minutes. Captain Sam Knudson registered their first try after a strong run by Tom Morrison, as Bryn Perrott converted from underneath the posts (10-7)
A slice of fortune favoured Grammar a few moments later. Douglas Russell made the initial break on the half-way ling before finding Tom Morrison whose pass then ricochet off a shoulder in the tackle and found its way into the hands of Bryn Perott to score, before converting his own try (10-14).
Grammar were down to 14-men after Robin Cessford was sent to the sin bin of half-time for offside, but the penalty attempt drifted wide.
Highland’s Callum Macpherson joined Cessford in the bin number of minutes later after referee John Shaw penalised the number eight for not rolling away.
Grammar came close to scoring on the stroke of half time after a powering run by Murray Mitchell, but some good defence stopped him just short of the line and Highland cleared the danger and were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Half Time Highland 10 – 14 Aberdeen Grammar
Aberdeen started on the front foot and looked to have scored but a Grieg Ryan was held up over the line.
However, they didn’t need to wait long for their next points, after the reset scrum the referee adjudged Highland had denied a certain Grammar score and awarded the penalty try (10-21).
Aberdeen then gave themselves a 16-point cushion with 14 minutes remaining after Tom Aplin dived over the line from close range. (10-26)
Alec Dravitski was then shown a yellow card for Grammar with 10 minutes left on the clock as Highland probed for a way back into the contest.
The final period was played in Aberdeen’s half, but they stood strong with some big tackles to close out the final to be crowned 2018-19 National League Cup winners with the final score 10-26.
At full time Aberdeen Head Coach Ali O’Connell said, “It’s always nice to win the final and a nice way to end the season. Fair play to Highland, I thought they were superb and put on a real physical battle, it just shows where they are going as a club, so full credit to them.
“We’re really happy, finishing top four in the league and promoted to Premiership so it’s been a successful year.
“In the first few minutes Highland were really on top, but then we came back into it as we tightened things up and cutting out the errors, and I think that’s what won it today.”
Highland: Rupeni Rokoduguni, Rob Eatough, Rory Cross, Seumas Ross, Steven Rutledge, Rory Carson, Ruaridh MacDonald, Lewis Sinclair, Kevin Brown, Murdo Paterson, Sean Blair Oscar Baird, Callum Carson, Gordon Gregor, Calum MacPherson. Jonny Milton, Nathan McLaughlan, Ben Gordon, Iain Chisholm, Connor Ross, Jese Nawacalevu, Stuart Watson.
Aberdeen Grammar: Bryn Perrott, Nathaniel Coe, Murray Mitchell, Tom Alpin, Douglas Russell, Sam Knudson (CAPTAIN), Tommy Morrison, Satthias Schosser, Andrew Cook, Calum Reddish, Robin Cessford, Ewan Stewart, Alec Dravitski, Christopher Jollands, Greig Ryan, Ross Anderson, Ben Inglis, Jordan Robertson, Will Alton, Sean Mills.