ALAN LORIMER @ Oriam
Mackie FP 41
THE second day of semi-finals on Sunday proved to be just as absorbing as the Under-18 matches the previous day, and posed the question of how Mackie Academy FP, so cut off from rugby in the central belt and the south of Scotland, would cope.
The answer was provided by Stonehaven side’s performance in the first of the semi-finals where they finished comfortable winners over Peebles by 41-19.
The North East side wasted little time in showing their running and handling skills opening the scoring with a try for wing Conan Adams from a well-aimed cross-kick by stand-off Craig Strachan, who added the conversion.
Then, when skilful handling put full-back Harris Mitchell in for a try, it seemed that Mackie were winning with some ease. Peebles, however, responded forcefully with tries in quick succession by lock Dan Askew and flanker Oliver Landers, plus one conversion by stand-off James Thomson to level the scores going into the break.
Mackie hit the second half with dynamic purpose scoring three tries by No 8 Harris Ferol, scrum-half Rhys Innes and a second for Mitchell. Minutes later the fast running Mitchell completed his hat-trick after carrying a wayward kick back at Peebles. The Stonehaven team signed off their scoring when Ferol broke clear from loose play to score under the posts leaving Strachan with a simple conversion kick.
Then in the dying minutes of the game, replacement Malcom Rodwell intercepted to score Peebles’ third try, James Thomson converting for the final points of the match.
“We didn’t know what our guys were capable of,” admitted the Mackie coach Tom Gilchrist, the father of Scotland second-row Grant. “The boys fronted up well in the first half and then we got the measure of Peebles. We sorted out our tactics better. The skill level was high on both sides. We’ve got some big forwards. We fancy our chances in the final. We don’t know the opposition and they don’t know us.”
Peebles coach, Drew Moore, conceded the better team on the day had come out on top. “Mackie are a good side and they played the pitch well,” he said. “It was tiring for us with guys constantly having to make tackles.”
Mackie Academy FP: H Mitchell; C Adams, R Gilchrist, A Sweetnam, A Davidson; C Strachan, R Innes; J Igesund, A Robertson, J Walsham, T Veitch, J Young, R Buchanan, J Edgar, H Ferrol. Subs: G Glass, T Grant, O Hepburn, M MacKay, K MacGregor, S Kenny, L McAlpine
Peebles: L Forsyth; C Boak, P Cannon, O Weipers, D Cathcart; J Thomson, F Maciver; B White, R Weir, A Cameron, F Colledge, D Askew, O Landers, E Maciver, F Sinclair. Subs: R Hunter, M Rodwell, E Hunter, L Caulton, A Walpole.
Hawick Youth 10
IF there was a abundance of tries in the first of the semi-finals then the second game at the Oriam was all about preventing scores as Boroughmuir and Hawick faced off in a contest which showcased skill and bravery in defence, and which ultimately produced a 12-10 win for the Meggetland side, withthe thin margin of victory saying everything about the highly competitive nature of the match.
Hawick had an early chance to kick what would have been a useful three points only for Ben Jardine to hook what should have been an easy kick in front of the posts. The Greens, however, quickly atoned with a try from a tap penalty, a surge by flanker Marcus Brogan, and then a long cut-out pass to try-scorer Sean McMichan.
The score proved to be the only points of a first half in which defences dominated. After the break Hawick were reduced to 14 players for 10 minutes after centre Justin Tait was yellow-carded. During Tait’s tenure in the bin, Boroughmuir engineered a good try from a tap penalty and skilful handling that sent winger Oliver Finlayson over in the corner.
Hawick came close to scoring when No 8 Cory Tait broke clear before passing to Finlay Douglas, whose speed looked certain to produce another try. Boroughmuir, however, showed equal pace in hunting down the Borderer to prevent the score.
But by now Hawick had the wind in their sails and after switching to pick-and-drive mode they made their second half break-through with a close range try by flanker William Ryan.
With the clock ticking down, Boroughmuir managed to work their way up the field and in a final surge flanker Euan Smart crashed over for a try, before scrum-half Josh Beveridge secured victory and a place in the final with his successful conversion.
“We always knew it was going to be a tough game against Hawick,” said Boroughmuir coach Richie Somerville. “We played them pre-season. They have big lads who are well drilled. For me, that was all about character. To go a score down with three minutes to go and then come back to win just shows the belief the guys have in each other. I thought their defensive effort today was unbelievable.”
It was a second heartbreak for Hawick in the space of 24 hours after the Under-18s side also fell at the penultimate hurdle on Saturday afternoon. Hawick’s coach Rocky Johnstone, however, praised his young charges. “They gave their best shot,” he said. “Both teams were evenly matched. There was nothing in it. We had chances but at times we didn’t look after the ball. We lost one or two line-outs and the scrum was under pressure a bit.”
Boroughmuir: M Marenduzzo; O Finlayson, R Campbell, G Anderson, J Kibby; G Lockart, J Beveridge; M Small, F Gray, R Moloney, M Mckay, C Burns, L McConnell, E Smart, L Habib. Subs: R Allan, A Barry, S Forbes, A Thompson, A Lopez, F Hollins-Kirk, O Canakaivata.
Hawick Youth: B Knight; M Goldie, F Douglas, J Tait, S McMichan; B Jardine, C Comley; D Halliday, J Redpath, H-J Donaldson, J Henderson, R Forbes, W Ryan, M Brogan, C Tait. Subs: R Hartedgen, E Kirkpatrick, B Halfpenny, S Young, M McDonald, L Douglas, O Gray.