Aberdeen Grammar fell to a sixth loss from their last seven games away to Jed Forest to slide out of the play-off places.
The Rubislaw side began their Premiership campaign in great form, winning five of their first six games, but have endured a recent slump to the dismay of head coach Ali O’Connor.
The 52-17 defeat at Jed was hard to take for O’Connor.
However, he remained loyal to his misfiring charges, refusing to make the excuse of having an under-strength side out for the testing Borders trip.
He said: “There are of course things that need to be put right.
“Defensively we find it difficult against a side like Jed who put pace and width on the ball.
“We also found it hard to turn them over, given their power. Scoring three tries was good, but we didn’t have enough guile to get over the line for the fourth and a bonus point.
“We’ll now have a break before attempting to get our act back on track at home to Musselburgh on January 11.”
Grammar made the best of starts to the game, racing into a 12-point lead in as many minutes thanks to well-taken tries by centre Murray Mitchell and winger Craig Shepherd, one of which was converted by centre Tom Aplin.
Mitchell’s effort owed much to his ability to retain the ball in the best rugby league tradition, while Shepherd’s kick ahead bamboozled the home defence.
It proved to be a false dawn, as the Riverside team composed themselves to run in four tries before half- time to lead 26-12.
Despite clawing an unconverted try back just after the break through number eight Nat Coe, Grammar were always on the back foot as the home side cut loose with pace and purpose, running in four more tries and taking the game away from the northeners.
The Young brothers Craig and Lewis were particularly effective in the Jed back division, scoring a try apiece, but it was big brother Garry at number eight who was the talk of Riverside and the pick of the trio with an all-action performance which resulted in him scoring two tries and winning the man of the match award.
Grammar must address some of the defensive issues, while asking why they fell so badly off the pace after their bright start. The return of Greig Ryan and Robin Cessford to the pack in 2020 might solve some of their organisational problems, enabling them to get their play-off aspirations back on track.