Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps 24
Jed Thistle 12
ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards
MELROSE WASPS moved into joint first place with Jed Thistle in the Borders under-18 semi-junior league after achieving victory over their rivals on the 3G pitch at The Greenyards last night [Wednesday]. The result means that the two teams, both of whom still have fixtures to play, are likely to meet again in a play-off next month.
In what was a high quality match, Wasps, looked strong and inventive in their back-line, and were in the driving seat for most of the first half only to be met by trenchant defence from a Thistle side that rarely shirked tackling chores.
“This was a great advert for Borders rugby,” said victorious head coach Jerry Brett. “I’ve got great admiration for Jed as a team. They were excellent tonight. They were physical. That’s probably the most physical team we’ve played against this season. They had desire in the tackle and desire to get on to the ball.
“I felt we were edgy in the first half. Maybe the occasion got to us. We needed more composure. The penalty count was 15-3 against us so there are lessons for us in there. We have to learn how to manage a game better. Also we need to play in their half.
“We still have several games to play, but if it’s us and Jed in the play-off (at a neutral venue), I hope we can get a big crowd,” added Brett, whose side contained six players who have been playing regularly for Melrose in the National One League.
For Jed, the match was an important part of their preparations for their Youth League Cup Final appointment at Murrayfield two weeks on Sunday when they will face GHA. Their coach, David Grieve, believes that despite the 12 point difference in the scores there was little between the teams.
“It was small margins,” he said. “But there are things we can work on and areas in which we can improve. I’m very proud of their commitment. We’re targeting the Cup final and the semi-junior league play-off.”
Jed showed their power in the opening phases with a number of rolling mauls but a turnover allowed Melrose to gain a foothold in Thistle’s 22. Once close to the line, Wasps turned the screw with close quarter driving play from a tap penalty that ended with prop Aron Gunn crashing over for the opening try.
It was the same formula that created the second Wasps try but this time the ball was released to the wider open space allowing full-back Matt Bertram to sail through a gap for his side’s second try giving Wasps a 10-0 interval advantage.
Thistle began the second half with a determination that suggested their first score would be imminent, forcing Wasps to concede numerous penalties, which ultimately resulted in a yellow card for second-row Nick Henderson. And Jed immediately made their one-man advantage tell with a try by No 8 Gareth Williams after excellent mauling play by the forward pack.
Then, minutes later, Williams completed a brace with a similarly created try from close range, and Ross Nichol’s conversion gave Thistle a 12-10 lead.
Wasps roared back with some adventurous play that ended with winger Ross Lile delivering a reverse pass for Bertram to claim his second try of the match, converted from out wide by stand-off Alexander Ramage.
Then, just before full time, another Melrose foray into Jed’s 22 culminated in lock forward Callum Folan blasting over for a try which was again converted by Ramage, the final points of a thoroughly viewable match.
Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps: M Bertram; R Lile, K Clark, R Brett, A Spencer; A Ramage, B Lynch; A Gunn, R Easson, A Daunas, C Folan N Henderson, A Bradfield, R Tullis, R Lindsay Subs J Noble, J Clarke, A Weir, W Dalrymple, H Mollart, A Mitchell, T Richardson.
Jed Thistle: L Smith; C Douglas, M Cullen, A Bambrick, Jai Fender; R Nichol, C Patterson; A Stewart, C Moffat, S Anderson, B Howe, K McGeown, T Cromarty, K Grieve, G Williams Subs P Fishwick, G Middlemiss, J Wieczysty, L Elder, F Falconer, K Hayes, C Mason.
Referee: M Todd.
MEANWHILE, High School of Glasgow won the Hutchesons’ 7s yesterday – the first schools’ sevens tournament of the season – at Auldhouse, by beating Glasgow Academy 28-14 in the Final, having already topped their pool with wins over Queen Victoria School, Kelvinside Academy and St Aloysius College, before defeating High School of Dundee in the semi-final.
The tournament attracted schools from a wide area, including Robert Gordon’s and Lathallan from the north east, Dundee High, Morrison’s Academy and Queen Victoria School from the Midlands, sonf Marr College, St Columba’s, Jordanhill School, Glasgow High, Glasgow Academy, Kelvinside Academy and hosts Hutchesons’ from the west. A number of schools fielded B sides bringing the total to 16 teams taking part, grouped in four pools of four.
The tournament will have served as a useful run-out for Glasgow High, Glasgow Academy and Dundee High, who are all part of an elite sevens series beginning at Old/New Anniesland on Saturday, continuing at Goldenacre/New Field the following week and concluding at Myreside/Inverleith on 21 March.
Also raking part in this new series are St Aloysius College, George Watson’s College, Stewart’s-Melville College, Edinburgh Academy, George Heriot’s School and Dollar Academy.
Finally, back to XVs rugby, and the 4G pitch at Portobello High School once again came to the rescue by providing a dry haven for the match between Boroughmuir and the Spanish visiting team Complutense Cisneros after the Meggetland pitches were ruled to be unplayable. In the event Boroughmuir won the match 43-15.
“This was a really good competitive game played with great attitude and spirit from both teams,” said the Boroughmuir head coach, Scott Anderson. “The boys from Madrid played with skill and pace, and thoroughly deserved their three tries in the second half. A return fixture in Madrid would be nice!”
Boroughmuir’s under-16 team, seeking match fitness ahead of their Youth Cup Final clash against Murrayfield on 22nd March, were not so fortunate, with their East Cup semi-final match against Gala Red Triangle at Netherdale postponed because of waterlogged pitches. Elsewhere Hawick under-18s defeated Kelso Quins 35-17.