Aberdeen Grammar ended a three-game losing streak with a gutsy 20-10 victory at Edinburgh Accies.
It was a welcome return to form for the Rubislaw men after suffering three losses on the spin – albeit to three of the best teams in the Premiership, including leaders Marr.
Grammar conjured this victory in difficult conditions at Newfield, the temporary home of Accies.
Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor was delighted his charges had found a way to play ugly.
He said: “Our defence was just tremendous. They dug deep in very difficult conditions.
“Winning ugly has never been our way, but it was exactly what was needed.
“We have clearly learned from the experiences of the last few weeks.
“That was winning ugly, but I will take it. I am very proud of the boys.”
The impressive win keeps the Rubislaw side in joint third on 28 points and, with two home games to come in the next two weeks, Grammar could well be on their way to the goal of a top-four finish and a play-off for the title at the end of the season.
Significantly, O’Connor has stuck by his early season enterprise of bringing in centre Nat Coe to the pack, where he has played in the second row and more recently in the No. 8 position in the absence of Greig Ryan, who is on his honeymoon.
Coe’s performance earned him the man-of-the-match award, not least for opening the score with a tap penalty which he started and finished, to the dismay of the home defence.
Aplin duly added the extras to give the visitors a deserved 7-0 lead in eight minutes.
Lifted by the inspiration of Coe, Grammar’s pack took over the game, earning further rewards through an Aplin penalty, although Jack Bruce had nipped over for Accies just before for an unconverted try.
But the clincher came right on the stroke of half-time when Ross Anderson crashed over under the posts, giving Aplin an easy conversion to make it 17-5 and offering no realistic chance of a home comeback, given the stranglehold the Grammar pack had on the game.
Accies rallied in the second half but, despite their best efforts, they were unable to break down the defensive wall put up by the Rubislaw men.
In fact it was the visitors who pushed farther ahead, almost inevitably through Aplin with a penalty, giving him a personal tally of 10 points for the afternoon.
All that remained was for Accies to end with a desperate flourish in a bid to claim a losing bonus point. But they came up short. Jamie Sole did get over for a home try, but it was far too late to affect the outcome of a game in which they were outplayed and out-thought. Home games against Glasgow Hawks and Selkirk in successive weeks now beckon for an Aberdeen Grammar side who should have it in them to successfully push for a place in the top four – maybe even top two – before the end of the year. But a month is a long time in this highly competitive but unpredictable division, as Grammar supporters know to their cost.