THE big beasts of the Shogun Conference, Ayr and Stirling County, have been drawn together in the quarter-final of the National Youth League under-18 Cup on 11th January with home advantage going to the Bridgehaugh club.
The two clubs met in last season’s final at Murrayfield, resulting in a win for County. Last Saturday the title holders made a successful start to the defence of their title by winning 19-50 away to Melrose Wasps in the preliminary round of the competition.
In a display of ruthless efficiency, Stirling ran in eight tries, two from wing Harry Wilson and one each from from No 8 Ranald Maxwell, wing James Isgrove, second-row Euan Cairns, front-rows Callum Hunter and Kevin Crainey, and full-back Cameron Blance. Five of County’s tries were converted by scrum-half Fraser Craig.
“That was our best performance of the season,” said County’s Academy manager, Stewart Milne. “Definitely still things to improve and we’ll need to build again for the quarter but a good day against a well drilled and dangerous Melrose side. The slightly one sided scoreline is testament to some brilliant last five defence on our part and being particularly clinical in the opposition 22. It will be a tough game against Ayr in the quarters but we’re looking forward to it.”
For Wasps, outside backs Roly Brett and Ross Lille scored tries, their other touchdown coming from prop Joe Noble. Two of the Melrose scores were converted by Zander Ramage.
Also through to the quarters are tier two Conference side, Cartha QP, who pulled off a dramatic 15-14 win over Boroughmuir at Meggetland last Saturday. “It goes without saying we as a club are really proud of our 18s squad,” said Cartha’s director of rugby Tom Feasby.
When the two teams faced each other in the final of the Under-16 Cup two seasons ago on the international pitch at Murrayfield, it ended with Boroughmuir winning handsomely, but this time round it was a different story.
Cartha led 7-0 at half time from a converted try by hooker Cameron MacMillan. Then an opportunist try by outside centre Jacob Fawcett from a 45 metres dash to the line put Cartha 12-0 ahead only for Boroughmuir to hit back after the break, scoring a try through prop Callum MacGregor which was coverted by centre Stuart Dobson, then a penalty try to take a 14-12 lead. But the game swung again when stand-off Dave McCartney held his nerve to kick the late winning goal.
“Cartha played the conditions well and stuck to their game plan,” conceded Scott Anderson, the Boroughmuir academy manager. “An injury to our Captain, Jo Dewar, didn’t really help us at the time either and we had to then wait on the 1st XV game against Dundee finishing to then move on to their pitch and play the last five mins. It was just one of these days when it didn’t go to plan and you don’t get second chances in the cup.”
Cartha will face another stuff test when they play past winners Jed Thistle in the quarter final at Jedburgh. The other winner last Saturday was Ellon who overcame Livingston 50-0. Ellon have been drawn away to GHA while the other North East side will face the winners of the postponed tie between Dundee and Hawick Youth.
National Youth League Under-18 Cup draw for quarter-finals on Sat 11th January –
Stirling County v Ayr/Wellington
Jed Thistle v Cartha Queens Park
GHA v Ellon
Dundee or Hawick Youth v Deeside Garioch
National Youth League Under-16 Cup draw for quarter-finals on Sun 12th January –
Ellon v Mackie
Whitecraigs v Peebles
Melrose Wasps v Boroughmuir
Hawick Youth or Perthshire v Stirling County