Aberdeen Grammar suffered a painful 85-5 defeat to Premiership leaders Currie Chieftains at Rubislaw.
The visitors had too much power and pace for an injury and Covid-ravaged home side who although not officially relegated, are teetering on the brink with four games to play.
The gap in class was all too evident as the Edinburgh side cruised to victory to record their 14th consecutive win to take them nine points clear at the top of the league.
Grammar, in stark contrast, have lost all but one of their 14 games, leaving the club 14 points adrift at the foot of the Premiership.
The squad has lacked the depth to compete at the top level this terms and the club could look at a major change of strategy and enter into meaningful partnerships with other clubs in the north-east.
This strategy was evident on Saturday when Grammar recruited Orkney’s tighthead prop Alistair Linklater to occupy the Rubislaw front row.
The 28-year-old replacement came on 20 minutes into the game for his debut, having come down on the overnight ferry on Friday and was back at Aberdeen Harbour to catch the Saturday one immediately after the end of the game.
Linklater admitted to enjoying the experience, winning the praise of Grammar’s forwards coach Iain Stanger who said: “Alistair acquitted himself well in what was a very difficult situation in which to make his debut. He did not look out of place.”
— Aberdeen Grammar Rugby (@ABDNRugby) January 22, 2022
Linklater was thrilled to have had the opportunity to play in the Premiership after coming through the ranks of the Pickaquoy set up.
He said: “It was so much faster than the pace in Caley Division 1 but it was a great experience. I would like to be back here next season. I was made to feel very welcome.”
The Orcadian is in fact the second player from Caley Division 1 to turn out for Grammar this season, as lock Carwyn Walker from Aberdeen Wanderers is already in the team.
Currie led 47-0 at half time on the back of seven tries and six conversions before adding six more in the second period, four of which were converted.
By way of consolation, Grammar winger Ben Renton scored a fine try when he got on the end of cross kick late in the second half.
1️⃣st XV host @ChieftainsRC at Rubislaw, 2pm k.o.
2️⃣nd XV head to @MorayRugbyClub, 2pm k.o.
🚌 Bus for Moray leaves GWH at 10:30am (meet at 10:15am)
Find the teams here🏉: https://t.co/lQ4PJKEaLH
— Aberdeen Grammar Rugby (@ABDNRugby) January 21, 2022
Otherwise it was one way traffic, although Grammar never gave up on a day to forget for the home players and spectators.
Grammar take on GHA, Selkirk, Hawick and Musselburgh in their final run of fixtures.
Dunfermline keep up the pace
In Caley Division 1, Dunfermline kept the pressure on Orkney after effectively taking Ellon out of the title race in their 30-14 win at the Meadows.
Aberdeen Wanderers returned to winning ways at Groats Road where they defeated Glenrothes 41-24, while Caithness enjoyed a fine 22-7 win at Grangemouth.
In Caley 2 North, Aberdeenshire will have to wait to be promoted after Moray comprehensively avenged last week’s defeat at 2nd Grammar, handing the Rubislaw side an 81-14 thrashing in Elgin.