Aberdeenshire 29 (14)
Ross Sutherland 26 (12)
Aberdeenshire finished off a successful season with the narrowest of wins against a tough Ross Sutherland side.
This game was always in the balance, with Paul Harrow’s penalty at the death proving the difference in a tight encounter.
Harrow had opened the scoring for Aberdeenshire early on and both teams claimed try scoring bonus points, sharing eight tries between them at Wooside.
Scrappy start feeds into running rugby
The hosts’s stand-off opened the scoring on ten minutes from close range after a slightly hectic opening period which saw several handling errors in muddy conditions.
Ross Sutherland then responded almost instantly through Chris Watt who found a gaping whole in the hosts’ defence to score.
The hosts then hit the front again through Andy Forman who latched onto a Jamie Stephen pass, the Full-back doing well to set Forman on his way for the score.
Watt then added his second for Ross just before the break to make it a two point game again as the flanker made a good break to leave a disorganised Aberdeenshire defence behind.
Indeed, the Invergordon side started the second-half brightly as well, with centre, Ali Kennedy finishing of a good team try.
John Mann’s conversion made it 14-19 and it briefly looked like there might be a shock on the cards at Woodside if Ross Sutherland could maintain this momentum.
There was a momentum shift on 50 minutes, but it was in the hosts’ favour instead when Aberdeenshire centre, Malcolm White finished off a superb try in the corner.
Harrow then did brilliantly to add the extras from the tightest of angles and the hosts had the lead once again.
This try seemed to relight Shire’s attacking firepower and seven minutes later, Keiran Fulton did well to finish in the other corner for his team’s fourth try.
The tough conversion was missed this time round, but it looked as though the hosts could start to regain some control from that point.
Ross Sutherland wouldn’t give in though and Matthew Robinson’s converted try set up a scintillating finish as the sides drew level.
On 74 minutes the visitors had the opportunity to go ahead, but Mann’s penalty kick was just wide and it was Aberdeenshire who sealed the victory when Harrow’s kick sailed through the posts at the death.
The hosts had sealed their promotion to Caley One last week when they defeated Mackie Academy FP, but the withdrawal of their 2nds from Caley Four has proved a slight dampener on their successful season.
It was perhaps important for their confidence that they were able to grind out a win on Saturday, before their National Bowl Semi-final encounter with Dalkeith.
Meanwhile, Ross Sutherland have three games of their season left, but are unlikely to avoid relegation after results elsewhere didn’t go their way. They travel to Highland 2nds next week needing a win.
Aberdeenshire Head Coach, Barny Henderson: “It was good to get the win even if we didn’t perform as well as we can. We were missing a few key players, but we now have three weeks for the guys to recover from any injuries before we go into the semi-final. Its been difficult losing the 2nds team, but the hope is we can rebuild one for next year. I’ve been on the other side of teams pulling out a couple of days before games and we don’t enjoy doing that.”
Aberdeenshire: Stephen, MacLugash, Watson, White, Fulton, Harrow, Morris; Shrewsbury, Mackie, Littlejohn, Watson, S.Lafferty, Penman, Forman, Burton
Replacements: G.Lafferty, Davies, Carr, Dagaga, Falconer, Stuart, El Hidane
Ross Sutherland: Team sheet not available.