Boroughmuir will use a month long break from Premiership action to regroup after a 26-27 Meggetland defeat by Aberdeen Grammar FPs left them perilously close to the basement.
With East Regional Cup ties scheduled to coincide with the international programme ’Muir will require to take stock of how they have now lost four games on the reel to lie second bottom and just three points ahead of Dundee High FPs who have a game in hand.
“I suppose on balance it might be good to get a break from the league and try to get some momentum going again,” admitted coach Fergus Pringle following a game that hinged on the late conversion of a try awarded at the instigation of a touch judge after referee James Matthew had appeared to indicate the ball was held up over the line.
Later it was sportingly acknowledged from one source inside the ’Muir camp that Sean O’Connor had indeed managed to wriggle his way over from a maul and touch down before Alex Hagart completed a 100 per cent kicking return with the vital conversion.
At the final whistle a couple of Meggetland players briefly seemed keen to remonstrate with the official although by that stage the damage had been done and there was more to be gained from reflecting on a performance lacking in fluency and where scrum half Andy Watt was too often put under pressure due to a lacklustre home pack.
True, ’Muir’s forwards did raise their game inside the final quarter to set up tries for Robin Hislop and Sep Visser and when Dons forward Murray Douglas was yellow carded in the 70th minute for spontaneously catching a ball as he ran back from an offside position that should have been all the incentive required.
But the general lack of conviction in defence was exposed in particular by Aberdeen centre Peceli Nacamavuto who was allowed far too much scope throughout.
By contrast Boroughmuir’s young back-line had some stunning moments, none more so than full back Damian Hoyland who must have impressed the watching Scotland under-20 coach Sean Lineen with his have-a-go approach.
Also, winger Redha Guedroudj broke from deep inside his own half and found Keith Buchan in support to lay on a superb try for fellow centre Mark Hare but there was only so much the livewire ’Muir backs could do on limited rations while referee Matthew’s ability to spot the full gamut of penalty offences might earn him a leg up the officiating pecking order but contributed nothing to the spectacle.
When it came to the controversial conclusion, though, coach Pringle said: “I trust the referee to make the right call. We had a similar situation at Melrose this season with the touch judge making the call against us so we have experienced it before.”
If Pringle was circumspect on refereeing issues he was more forthright about his team’s shortcomings, remarking: “We played well for 15 minutes of the second half only.
“That was unfortunate because when we do get our game going we can put any side under pressure.
“We just didn’t ask enough questions.
“Aberdeen targeted us at the breakdown and we were not accurate enough at the line-out.
“We just didn’t get phases going.”
Pringle also noted that either of Ally Warnock’s two second-half conversion attempts from near the stand touchline could have won the game.
“We knew the last kick especially was important because it would have made Aberdeen chase the game.
“But Ally has hardly missed all season and they were difficult kicks.”
In fact, Warnock emerged with credit for his marshalling of the youthful back line and he did provide an early lead with the first of three penalties.
But Nacamavuto quickly served notice of his threat with a try that saw a handful of defenders bounce off his stocky frame and Hagart launched his impeccable kicking tour-de-force from under the posts.
A Tony McGuinness try peeling off a maul added to home woes before Hare’s first touchdown of the season and it was somewhat against the run of play that ’Muir led 16-14 at the interval.
On the restart Hoyland came within fingertips of catching a high kick on the run for what would have inevitably been one of the tries of the season; instead Hagart’s penalties provided a 20-16 lead that lasted until Sep Visser battled over to be followed by Robin Hislop five minutes later.
That should have been enough especially with Andy Rose producing a copybook tackle to snuff out a Steve Aitken run to the posts but by failing to take their cue from the captain ’Muir, who had Greg Scott yellow carded in the first half, were to pay a high price down the home straight and recovery may not be a straightforward matter especially as they would have leapfrogged the Dons had they held out.
Boroughmuir: Tries: Hare, Hislop, Visser. Conversion: Warnock. Penalties: Warnock (3).
Aberdeen Grammar FPs: Tries: Nacamavuto, McGuinness, O’Connor. Conversions: Hagart (3). Penalties: Hagart (2).
Boroughmuir: D Hoyland, R Guedroudj, K Buchan, M Hare, J Webster, A Warnock, A Watt, R Wilson, G Jones, K Coertze, G Scott, A Davidson, A Rose (captain), J Swanson, A Henderson. Subs: M Brown, R Hislop, I Moody, D Reekie, S Visser.
Aberdeen Grammar FPs: S Aitken, E Oag, W Wardlaw, P Nacamavuto, C Anderson, A Haggart, M Ward, S Corsar (captain), S O’Connor, N Fraser, S Smith, M Reid, M Douglas, C Eyre, A McGuinness. Subs: M Dixon, R Coates, G Clow, J Lauder, L Seydak.
Referee: J Matthew.