Aberdeen Grammar’s relegation from the Premiership was confirmed at Mansfield Park where they went down 59-3 against title-chasing Hawick.
Grammar had their moments in the first half, threatening the Borderers line on a number of occasions.
They contained the home side to scoring only three converted tries, while pegging the Greens back with a well-struck Patrick Ritchie penalty to make it 7-3 early in Grammar’s last away game in the top amateur league.
Scrum-half Ritchie, standing in for Tom Aplin, the normal place-kicker, was just off the mark with a similar effort shortly after his early success.
Thereafter, Grammar were mainly on the back foot, but, while the Rubislaw side will now be able to focus their attention on rebuilding in National League 1, there are clear indications that there are some players, including Corey Buchan, who could provide the building blocks in the 2022/23 season.
Buchan, normally a back rower, was asked to play in the unaccustomed role of centre and, while he acquitted himself well, it was his attitude which was a stronger reason for believing Grammar can bounce back after a tough season.
He said: “The score flattered Hawick.
“We gave them some anxious moments early on, and with a bit of luck could have scored tries, but that’s been the story of our season.”
The makeshift Grammar side gave it their best shot against a Hawick side who sit in third place and are pushing for a place in the Premiership play-off final next month.
Aberdeen Grammar director of rugby Gordon Thomson said: “We had 22 of our first team squad missing today.
“Given the situation, I thought we performed pretty well. I was happy with their commitment.
“The recruitment and rebuilding exercise is now under way. If we are to have a quality team in Aberdeen, we need to have other clubs buying into the idea.”
The determination and desire to bounce back was further reflected in Doug Russell, the club captain, who played and skippered from the unfamiliar stand-off position.
He said: “We went down to one of the most fearsome grounds in Scotland with nothing to lose.
“I couldn’t have asked the guys for any more than they gave today. I now look forward to next week when we’ll give our home crowd a reason to turn up.
“We may be relegated, but we can finish on a high against first Selkirk and then Musselburgh.”
The biggest disappointment for the Grammar faithful was the failure to build on a good first hour and then concede six tries in the last half hour.
Grammar will now look to end a difficult season on a positive note with victories in their final two home games of the 2021-22 campaign.