ALAN LORIMER at BT Murrayfield
FOR sheer drama, it would be hard to beat the 2019 National Youth Cup Under-18 Final at Murrayfield, won by Boroughmuir with a stoppage time penalty goal by stand-off Calum Anderson.
Boroughmuir, tipped to win the Cup after triumphing in the Shogun Conference at Under-18 level, let a half-time lead erode. Their hopes were further splattered when Ayr/Wellington scored to take the lead just three minutes from full-time. But, somehow, they found inner strength to fight their way back up field before winning a crucial penalty, and then delivering the death blow to Ayr/Wellington’s Cup aspirations.
Afterwards, Boroughmuir’s coach, Scott Anderson, admitted: “We never thought that 12-0 at half time was going to be enough. Overall, I don’t think we really got going today. But it was testament to the boys’ strength that with three minutes to go they fought back. It was the right call to go for the posts and happily Calum nailed it.
“Ayr didn’t let us play our game,” he added. “But I’m delighted for our boys. The progression is good. It’s a young team –fifteen of the guys in the squad that played today are eligible to play next season.”
Ayr, too, will have a number of their players back for next season but they will see their defeat at Murrayfield as one that got away. Undoubtedly they were handicapped by having to play without their stand-off and captain Andy Morrison but Ayr can be pleased with the performance of their forward pack and being able to run Boroughmuir to such a fine margin.
It was Ayr who produced the first few attacking threats with a couple of sniping runs from their live-wire scrum-half Craig Doolan but ultimately these did not translate into points.
Then, when Boroughmuir turned up the burners, a try seemed inevitable. It came when the Meggetland men opted to run a penalty, the ball was spun first to the left then back in-field for flanker Gavin Inkster to supply the scoring for an unconverted try by wing Finlay Devine in the corner.
Ayr tried desperately to hit back but were undone by faulty handling in their own 22m area, that presented Boroughmuir’s Jeke Canakaivata the ball. The pacy Fijian winger took route one to the line for a try under the posts, leaving stand-off Anderson with a simple conversion.
Boroughmuir then had to defend ferociously as Ayr’s forwards tried to batter their way over the line but to no avail, leaving the Meggetland men ahead by 12-0 at the break.
The game seemed to lose its shape in the third quarter before the drama to unfolded in the last period. It began with a fightback from Ayr who attacked from a line-out five metres from the Boroughmuir line. Ayr initially set up a driving maul and when the ball was released powerful centre Dylan Wilson sprinted over for a try converted by Murray Thomson.
Ayr then struck decisively, and, again, it was the forwards who did the spade work, pummelling the Boroughmuir line with close range drives before eventually cracking the defence when replacement Sam Kerr barrelled over, and Thomson’s conversion gave the team from the west the lead with just three minutes of play remaining.
In a nerve-shredding ending, man-of-the-match Inkster made ground from a tap penalty to bring Boroughmuir into Ayr’s red zone, and then when Boroughmuir were awarded a penalty with the clock showing full-time, Anderson stepped up to deliver the coup de grace.
Ayr: Ross Maiden; Jason McGuiness, Dylan Wilson, Murray Thomson, Chris Easton; Billy Jackson, Craig Doolan; Michael Lafferty, Ross Ward, Ben Cree, Euan Bulloch, Conrad Lynch, Cameron Young, Olly Mossie, Morgan Leatherbarrow. Subs: Scott Clelland, Conlan McLuckie, Stephen McLarty, Sam Kerr, Daniel White, Jonathon Easton, Neil Monaghan.
Boroughmuir: John Dewar; Finlay Devine Stuart Dobson, Ben Mackintosh, Jeke Cankaivata; Calum Anderson, Ethan McVicker; Daniel McDevitt, Grant Stevenson, Callum MacGregor, Derry McConnell, Lewis Thompson, Matthew Crawford, Gavin Inkster, Paul Bogie. Subs: Cameron Ritchie, Charlie Farmer, Murray Roy, Scott McDowell, Cameron Ledingham, Adam Jacques, Cameron Hogg.
Referee: R Campbell
Ayr/Wellington: Tries Wilson, Kerr; Cons: Thomson 2.
Boroughmuir: Tries: Devine, Canakaivata; Con: Anderson; Pen: Anderson.
Scoring Sequence (Ayr first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12 (h-t) 5-12; 7-12; 12-12; 14-12; 14-15.
Man-of-the-Match: Boroughmuir flanker Gavin Inkster used his pace to revel in the open spaces at Murrayfield but it was his less glamorous contributions at crucial stages in the match that made him the man-of-the-match.
Talking point: This was a much closer final than many had predicted and for that Ayr will have derived some satisfaction despite being gutted at the manner of defeat. For Boroughmuir, this was testament that their Academy system, now in its second season, is working and providing the chances for state school rugby players that might otherwise be denied them.