Stirling County 22
ALAN LORIMER at BT Murrayfield
STIRLING COUNTY claimed the National Youth Under-16 Cup, to go with the Shogun Conference title they picked up earlier in he season, after defeating Biggar in a quality final at Murrayfield this afternoon with a performance that fulfilled the Bridgehaugh club’s desire to play an open game.
“We knew the secret for us was to try an play the ball wide and use the open spaces at Murrayfield, but Biggar made it exceptionally difficult for us,” said Stuart Keys, the County coach. “They defended very well, and caused us a lot of difficulty through their powerful forward pack. They also had a very powerful outside centre who carried ball very well and a dangerous left wing. As the game wore on their big forwards ran some very good lines.
“We lost our stand-off, Callum Beckett, just before the interval with a knee injury and that made a difference. But we have depth in our squad and that was important.”
“We had a messages from Finn Russell and we had Grant Gilchrist over to present the shirts,” he added.
For Biggar, the result was a disappointment. But the Hartree Mill side can take much from a final in which they imposed themselves on the game and made Stirling work for their win.
Biggar certainly have a number of quality players in their side who will surely go on to make their mark in the senior game .
Stirling’s dynamic start to the match brought a quick reward, a penalty goal from 30 metres out by Beckett. But County’s lead was wiped out some ten minutes later when, from a five metre scrum. Biggar’s flanker Sam Taylor drove hard for the line, before the finishing touch was provided by fellow back-row and skipper Jonathan Smith for a 5-3 lead.
County hit back immediately, Beckett putting in a clever grubber kick that resulted in a five metre scrum and possession that gave the stand-off the opportunity to show his eye for the break and a first try for Stirling, converted by Beckett for a 10-5 lead.
Biggar came close to increasing their lead after a defence-splitting run from their powerful left wing Callum Smith and then a number of close range thrusts by the forwards. Stirling’s defence, however, resisted before Beckett cleared with a telling kick from hand.
Then, just before the break, Beckett had a kick charged down on the Stirling 22m line and after quick transfer of the ball by the Biggar backs the muscular Rhys Campbell was put on an unstoppable run to the line, full-back Calum McCallum adding the conversion points to give his side a 12-10 interval lead.
Beckett was forced to miss the second half after injuring his shoulder but Stirling remained an attacking threat and regained the lead with a clever move from a scrum that resulted in the blindside winger Harry Wilson popping up in midfield to cross unopposed.
Biggar appeared to have responded quickly when Jack Smith was put in the clear only for a forward pass to be called. The momentum then shifted to Stirling and after a slicing run by replacement wing Ryan Deakin, County moved the ball expertly for centre Liam McNicoll to score, with Scott Sheriff providing the extras.
Biggar, however, still had fight left in them and appeared to have scored when hooker Cameron Gray forced his way over. Referee Gregor McIntosh ruled that Gray had been held up but from the resultant scrum, man-of-the-match Taylor dashed over for a try, but it was not enough to prevent Stirling from taking the honours.
Biggar: Callum McCallum; Aaron Millar, Rhys Campbell, Murray Lean, Callum Smith; Euan Laing, Archie Damer; Louis Henderson, Cameron Gray, Ben Nicol, Fraser Simpson, Ben McLeish, Jamie Tucker, Samuel Taylor, Jonathan Smith Subs Jack McAllister, Ryan Adair, Connor Lister, Kaleb Millar, Callum Brett, Callum Yardley, Andrew Wight.
Stirling County: Cameron Blance; Harry Wilson, Ben Yarrow, Liam McNicholl, Necani Racava; Callum Beckett, Scot Sherriff; Jake Galbraith, Jack Smith, Aengus Lennox, Andrew McCormack, Ruairidh Nelson, Dugald MacDonald, Cameron Lynn, Sam Clark. Subs: Michael Comrie, Logan Niven, Fraser Roy, Isaac Smith, Jonny Hanson, Ryan Deakin, Dan Hunter
Referee: G McIntosh
Biggar: Tries J Smith, Campbell, Taylor Con McCallum
Stirling County: Tries Beckett, Wilson, McNicoll Con Beckett Pen Beckett
Scoring Sequence (Biggar first): 0-3; 5-3; 5-8; 5-10; 10-10; 12-10 (h-t) 12-15; 12-20; 12-22; 17-22.
Man-of-the-Match: Biggar flanker Samuel Taylor put in an eye-catching performance, making his side’s opening try and then scoring the team’s third touchdown.
Talking point: A disappointing outcome for Biggar but this has been a good season for the side and bodes well for the future. As for Stirling, this was confirmation that their youth system is still operating at a high level.