by ALAN LORIMER
IT feels strange that George Watson’s College will not be represented at Murrayfield for this season’s Scottish Schools under-18 and under-16 Cup Finals, such has been the Myresiders’ constant and successful presence in this showcase event over the past four years.
Continuity, however, will be provided by Dollar Academy, who face Stewart’s-Melville College in the under-18 Cup final. The Clackmananshire school were last year’s beaten finalists, pipped at the death by a last minute penalty goal from Watson’s scrum half Fraser Peters.
With a high proportion of fifth year players in their side last season, and having come so close to defeating Watson’s twelve months ago, Dollar were seen as a shoo-in for the 2016-17 title – and that view gained up-to-the-minute currency when they dismissed the defending champions in the semi-final with a resounding 38-24 home win to book a trip to Murrayfield.
What has raised questions over the confident prediction that Dollar would be red-hot favourites for the 2016-17 Cup is the form of Stewart’s-Melville College this season. The Inverleith side finished top of the under-18 table in the Red Conference this season and, significantly, their five wins in this competition included a 41-0 win over Dollar.
That victory, however, has to be seen in the context of Dollar missing several of their leading players on that occasion, key performers who have been crucial to Dollar’s successes this season.
Despite this caveat, Stewart’s-Melville will be favourites to win the Cup, not least because of their commanding display against Merchiston at Colinton in the second of the semi-finals when they romped to a 33-13 win.
Dollar field several players of real quality such as stand-off Grant Hughes, full back Ben McIlwraith and tighthead prop Euan McLaren. For their part, Stewart’s-Melville have strength throughout their side and stand-out players in wingers Jack Blain and Jacob Lineen, and backrows Callum Rowberry and Connor Boyle.
In the under-16 Cup, St Aloysius College have the chance to strike a blow for the third tier White Conference. Under the direction of director of rugby, Mark McKenzie, the former Scotland A and Stirling County stand-off, they have established themselves as the leading rugby school in Glasgow.
St Aloysius reached the final with a characterful 14-12 win over Merchiston at Colinton having earlier dismissed George Watson’s College and Earlston High School.
Strathallan, joint under-16 title holders with Watson’s after the two schools ended last year’s final with an inconclusive and unsatisfactory 5-5 draw, defeated Dollar 21-12 in their semi-final, and Edinburgh Academy 33-28 in the quarters.
While the Cup games are the top billings, there are six other finals going ahead – Shield, Plate and Bowl at under-18 and under-16 levels – all being played on the back pitches at Murrayfield.
ALL THE RUNNERS AND RIDERS –
UNDER-18s CUP FINAL (KICK-OFF 7.45pm ON MAIN PITCH) –
Stewart’s Melville College: Findlay Smith; Jack Blain, Cameron Symes, Robbie McPherson, Jacob Lineen; Ross Thompson, Cameron MacDonald; Rory O’Hara, Edward Kelman, Thomas Petiau, Finlay McIIwraith, Chris Murchison, Ben Dollery, Connor Boyle, Callum Row Berry. Subs: Nathan Brown, Patrick Ritchie, Francis Fraser, Angus Douglas, Ronan Mountford-Smith, Toby Hughes.
Dollar Academy: Ben McIIwraith; Charlie Dineen, Fergus Fitzpatrick, Amodio Citro, Sam Smith; Grant Hughes, Gus War; Moray Sharpe, Angus Cooper, Euan McLaren, Joel Skipper, Jonathan Davies, Reece McAllister, Gordon McAllister, Gordon McGregor, Lachlan Peterson. Subs: Finlay Bennett, Rory Power, Hamish Neil, Lachlan Kelly, Jordan Miller, Jamie Price.
UNDER-16s CUP FINAL (KICK-OFF 6pm ON MAIN PITCH) –
Strathallan School: Lewis Louden; Campbell Carracher, Euan Nicol, Angus Vipond, Struan Milligan; Rory Bayne, Henry Lapslie; Ross Walker, Rupert Joyce, Struthan Cameron, Fergus James, Alamin Kudehinbu, Iain Galloway, Paul Elliot, Alex Marsh. Subs: Joe Higginbottom, Ozzy Hamzeh, Finlay Cleaver-Smith, Hamish Allen, James Shephard, Cameron Paterson, Peter Wallwork.
St Aloysius’ College: Nick McAllister; Luca Bardelli, Andrew Hughes, Tom Lonergan, Adam Scott; Luke Jack, Josh Kelly, Lewis Patrick, Patrick Norris, Ben Mclean Paton, Luke McCutcheon, Tino Mudotti, Max Duffy, Daniel Lizerri, Louis Campbell. Subs: Daniel Sharkey, Daniel Reda, JP Brawley, Zack MKeown, Ethan Darroch, Isaac Mitchell, Ronan Ross.
UNDER-18s SHIELD FINAL (KICK-OFF 6pm ON BACK PITCHES) –
Glenalmond College: Rafe Houston; Jack Sampson, Osaghae, Charlie Hogg, Freddie Cliff; Charlie Robinson, Kaleem Baretto; Alex Coward, Cameron Bullard, Wilf Weir, Jock Stodart, Dean Orr, Rory Sandison, Jack Denton, Andrew O’Neil. Subs: Jeremy Bidwell, James Brewis, Chris Lai, Angus Fitzpatrick, Fergus Godfrey-Faussett, Miles Kinge, Robert Leader.
Strathallan School: Greig Brown; Tom Clark, Ollie Smith, James McCaig, Finlay Laird; Calum McKeown, Cameron Griffiths; Hamish White, Lisle Halkett, Murphy Walker, Andrew Smith, Cameron Henderson, Lyle Ross, Tom Molnar, Lewis Webster. Subs: Scott Buchan, Iain Robertson, Cairn Ramsay, Alex Waller, Yanick Sutcliffe, Martin O’Driscoll, Aed Brennan.
UNDER-18s PLATE FINAL (KICK-OFF 6pm ON BACK PITCHES) –
High School of Glasgow: Paul McKendry; Vitorrio Giambastiani, Calum Simpson, James Stewart, Marcus Forbes; Murray Godsman, Aidan FitzGerald; Matthew Johnstone, Omar Mohapatra, Adam Pollock, Ruairidh Wallace, Ross Mitchell, Ross Lilley, Jamie Miller, Callum Coats. Subs: Keir MacPhee, David Sim, Ewan Docherty, Ross Horn, Michael Macnaughton, Robbie Simmers, Tom Armstrong.
Hutcheson’s GS: Alastair McFarlane; Adam Burns, James Stewart, Rory Dickson, David Nairn; Jackson Baillie, George Baird; Michael Cruickshank, Euan Ramage, Gareth Williams, Carl Ramage, Struan Miller, James Plumridge, Kasim Ali, David Brown. Subs: Jacob Chen, Alessio Cirignaco, Alex Gerry, Fraser Meighan, Harry Judd, Andrew Brown.
UNDER-18s BOWL FINAL (KICK-OFF 6pm ON BACK PITCHES) –
Morrison’s Academy: Calum Campbell; Peter Cowan, Andrew McLean, Angus Lawson, Callum Jones; Jonathon Ross, Jonathon Cook; Ewan Vivers, Alexander Beat, Ben Ashworth, Louis Leger, Ross Donald, Ian MacGregor, Ewan Jack, Dominic Doherty. Subs: Marc McIntosh, Andrew Van Der Wielan, Christopher Martin, Fraser Lindsey, Lewis Ritchie, Josh Pritchard, Andrew McInnes.
Bell Baxter HS: Cameron Brown; Aidan Lawson, Jack Brown, Harry Poolman, Innes Service ; Nico Van Rensburg; Finlay Adams; Michael Gibson, Peter Egerton, Jack Sinclair, Fraser Clunas, Keir Honeyman, Zak Ramsay, Fraser Allan, Jamie Thomson. Subs: Ross Martin, Frazer Flynn-George, Joe Gibson, Conall McDonagh, Euan MacDonald.
UNDER-16s SHIELD FINAL (KICK-OFF 2.30pm ON BACK PITCHES) –
George Watson’s College: Alex Khaleeli; Ben Clark, Jamie Stephen, Fraser Kinloch, Ewan Evans; Alex Harley, Oli Snodgrass; Ross Martin, Rory O’Brien, Euan Craig, Oli Robertson, Jonny Roberts, Finlay Tait, Connor Tucker, Harri Morris. Subs: Sam Humphries, Adam McGregor, Jake Williamson, Murray Whitaker, Fraser Smith, Luke Stephen, Corin MacDonald .
Glenalmond College: Toby Adamson; Max Altink, Ben Porter, Laurence Kinge, Farkie Wier; Will Laird, Llew Porter; George Breese, Finn McCarthy, Jamie Morrison, James Holdsworth, Marcus Fforde, Ben Humphries, Ben Morrison, Tom Porter. Subs: Gregor Cochrane, Caspar Keunecke, Euan Moncrieff, Rory Kavanagh, Dougie Mackenzie, Tom Reynolds, Sacha Forbes Leith.
UNDER-16s PLATE FINAL (KICK-OFF 2.30pm ON BACK PITCHES) –
Earlston HS: Cammie Meager; Mathew Pender, Darren King, Roly Brett, Callum Weston; Harry Makowski, Hamish Weir; Jake Fairley, Lewis Klein, Euan Brydon, Arran Paterson, Will Irvine, Callum Hastings, Gregor Lindsay, Trystan Andrews. Subs: Connor Russell, Jamie Clarke, Will Catterall, Lewis Marshall, Jamie Brown, Keiran Clarke, Jamie Lile.
High School of Glasgow: Callum Docherty; Rhys Evans, Angus Barrett, Ben Hutton, Graeme Macdonald; Brodie Wells, Sandy Greig; Guan-An Chen, Cameron Howie, Jai Tyagi, Andrew Taylor, Paul Dewhurst , Jay McMillan, Seamus Keaney, Jonathan Chalmers. Subs: Calum Woolard, Lawrie Bell, Ross Gray, Ewan Forbes, Russell Tong, Calum Don, Luke Armstrong.
UNDER-16s BOWL FINAL (KICK-OFF 2.30pm ON BACK PITCHES) –
Lomond & Helensburgh: Angus Guy; Jack Dunn, Ben Farrar, Nick Fish©, Bryn Davies; Joe Bull, Conn Mundie; Luke Ashdown, Findlay Fletcher, Gus Byrne, Cameron King, Jack Chapman, Alexander Caskie, Angus Macleod, Moray Ormiston. Subs: Adam Hameed, Michael Roy, Finlay Gray, Josh Somerville, Stewart Peden, Ewan Coyle, Philipp van Wallmoden.
Hutchesons’ GS: Robbie Dickie; Finlay Mathers, Harris Miller, Fraser Belmore©, Lucas Chen; Luke Boyd, Robbie Dool; Eashan Rakhra, Matthew Paton, Sam Holloway, Hamzah Hanif, Harry MacDonald, Harry Littlejohn, Ethan Law, Matthew Conroy. Subs: Cameron Hastings, Craig Dunipace, Alex Hyman, Bruce Dickson, Fraser Rennie.
Image courtesy: Scottish Rugby/SNS Group