This was a day of reckoning for all involved. Peter Chalmers had turned 50 years of age and had set the gauntlet for a Scotland select XV to take on the mighty Rest of the World XV at Woodside Sports Complex.
Aberdeenshire RFC has long been an establishment of national pride, with a Scottish hardcore of players who put their bodies on the line week in week out in the pursuit of league and cup glory. In recent years there has been an influx of international talent though, like most sports in the modern era, they have recruited the cream of the crop for all corners of the globe (or the UK plus South Africa) to enhance their elite squad.
With the home side beaming in their smart special edition shirts at kick off, their substitutes at hand almost outnumbered those on the pitch. They had almost the entire support of those on the sideline, but although full of pride and hope, the scene was somewhat reminiscent of a strong visiting nation being received at Murrayfield.
A tense start saw a few handling mistakes, but also forced an open match from the word go. Both teams heavily in pursuit of an opening score. It was the ROW team who broke the deadlock with a tremendous show of strength from Eddie Theron. Next came a fitting reply as the Scotland team replied immediately with a good support run by Peter Chalmers ending in a try on his tributary occasion.
Play continued to be open, with some clean back play opening up space after a few phases for Kevin Duffy to use his searing pace down the ROW left wing for 5 more points. Another score for Eddie Theron took the ROW into the break with a slight cushion, but meant they were mindful of the possibility of a Scotland comeback.
Early in the second half, the ROW piled on the pressure and there was some great ball retention from Eddie Theron, Brian O'Shaunnessey and Ryan Mountain who was heriocially nursing an injured rib by playing at inside centre. This resulted in another try for Kevin Duffy derived from a blind side wing move which Duncan Healey hit on a great angle. A fumble on the try line by a Scotland centre only added to their misery when Dexter the ROW scrum half pounced to take the advantage and score.
At this point the ROW were riding high, but could not have predicted the comeback on the horizon. The Scotland team all of a sudden gelled into place, taking advantage of a few weary ROW defensive lines and sending Matt Christie across with a well worked phase of play. Some powerful running from Ryan Edwards pushing the ROW back deep into their half meant Eric Strachan could bundle over from close range to worry the ROW side into thinking there might still be time for a resurgence.
But a runaway try for Shaun Mountain soon brought the advantage back to the ROW side, with Shaun intercepting a Scotland back move and enduring a 70 yard run to touch down under the posts. An emphatic 60 yard break by Russel Hempsey saw the visitors travel back into the Scotland half and apply more pressure. However the Scotland side definitely finished the match on the up, with Craig Howatt touching down for another score to bring up their tally.
Hall of Shame
Bob Hardy - for dropping the ball over his own line and Dexter scoring from it.
Kev Duffy - for making a great counterattack and then tripping himself over
Broaders - for the high number of "hospital passes" he gave people.
Ryan Edwards - for being the best player on the Scotland side despite being Welsh.
Brian O'Shaunessey - for wearing the whitest boots since Gary Leith was with us.
So a spirited occasion all round, although bragging rights for the next season at least reserved for the Rest of the World XV.