Stewart’s-Melville College 21
George Watson’s College 42
ALAN LORIMER @ Murrayfield
GEORGE WATSON’S COLLEGE extended an unbeaten run of results this season by winning the Boys U18 Cup with an unexpectedly more-than-comfortable win over their Edinburgh rivals, Stewart’s-Melville College, on the international pitch at Scottish Gas Murrayfield. And with this Cup clash doubling as Conference match, Watson’s moved to top spot in the top tier national u18 league.
Mike Ker, the Watson’s u18 coach, admitted that all the moving parts had moved in the right synchronisation, saying: “Everything clicked for us. We deserved that margin of victory from the way we played. Every aspect of our game was strong. Defensively we put them under a lot of pressure and attack-wise we played at a really good pace [and] put them under pressure with our kicks. It’s all a culmination of six months of hard work.”
Outstanding for Watson’s was their hat-trick scorer, No 8 Harrison Wood, who constantly gave his side the go-forward they needed to break down the Stew-Mel defence. The Myreside team also had telling performances from stand-off Andrew Cameron, wing Daniel Kelly and flanker Michael McAndrew.
For Stewart’s-Melville, defeat was understandably disappointing given their results this season, most notably their victory over Merchiston in the Cup semi-final. Hayden Lingard, their coach, however, was clear that his team had come up against a very good Watson’s side.
“I’ve got no complaints; we were outplayed by a totally better team on the day. They were both good teams but today Watson’s showed they were slightly better. They got on the scoreboard early and it doesn’t suit us to chase a game. Their big players stood up and we probably struggled to take care of their ball carriers,” was Lingard’s candid assessment.
Overall, this was one of the better Cup finals. It was played at pace, it was very competitive and the skill levels stood up to the pressure of playing on the wide acreage of the international pitch at Murrayfield.
Watson’s were points hungry in the opening minutes, assuaging their appetite with an early penalty goal by Cameron and then a try in the corner by wing Fergus Ferguson after skilful handling by the Myreside backs.
Stew-Mel hit back with physical rugby and were rewarded with a try from a tap penalty by their prop James Page, the conversion by Howie Offord narrowing Watson’s lead to just one point.
But if Stew-Mel thought they were on an upward trajectory then that notion was quickly quashed when flying wing Kelly set up a try for the supporting Nico Chapple, converted by Cameron.
Watson’s then came close to adding a third try when scrum-half Alex Thomson dived over the line only to be held up by the alert Stew-Mel defence.
But it was clear that Watson’s were building momentum and they did not take long to capitalise on their second quarter dominance, with a close range try by the dynamic Wood from a tap penalty move. Cameron missed the conversion kick but atoned quickly with a penalty on the stroke of half-time to send his team into the break with a 23-7 advantage.
Having prospered in the first half through a wide game, Watson’s showed that they could play equally effective forward-based rugby to create a second try for Wood, which Cameron inflated to a seven pointer with his successful conversion kick.
With their confidence at a high octane level, Watson’s then constructed another try, this time from a high kick into the spacious Murrayfield in-goal area. The ball bounced high, Kelly leapt and on his return to terra firma he managed to ground the ball, Cameron again adding the extras.
Trailing 7-37, Stew Mel partially redeemed themselves with positive play that clawed back seven points from a maul try by replacement Taylor Gray and the conversion by Offord. Then, with a head of steam being built, Stew-Mel struck again with a close-range score by replacement front-row Jack Mayer, Offord’s conversion completing a hat-trick of successful kicks at goal.
Watson’s, realising that their substantial lead was being eroded hit back powerfully and again it was Wood who crashed over to complete his hat-trick, and to complete a memorable win for the Myreside team.
Stewart’s-Melville College: H Limb; J Bennett, A Munro, R Cavin, S Daly; H Offord, L MacLeod; P Gilroy, D Smith, J Page, A Urmson, S Allan, C Stewart, C Robertson, B Gammie. Replacements: J Mayer, T Gray, C Burns, E McDonald, M Berroya, F Percy-Robb, C Mayer.
George Watson’s College: J Thomson; D Kelly, J Loukes, H Clark, F Ferguson; A Cameron, A Thomson; D Brown, M Connor, C O’Reilly, N Chapple, L Kinnear, I McLaren, M McAndrew, H Wood. Replacements S Power, R Hamilton, F Black, S Bundulis, J Sinclair, D Maguire, B Sharman.
Referee: David Young
Stewart’s-Melville College: Tries: Page, Gray, Mayer; Cons: Offord 3;
George Watson’s College: Tries: Ferguson, Chapple, Wood 3, Kelly; Cons: Cameron 3; Pens: Cameron 2.
Scoring sequence (Stew-Mel first): 0-3; 0-8; 5-8; 7-8; 7-13; 7-15; 7-20; 7-23 (h-t) 7-28; 7-30; 7-35; 7-37; 12-37; 14-37; 19-37; 21-37; 21-42.