SCHOOLS CONFERENCE RUGBY will be at full throttle this weekend, both in the West and the East competitions, following the break in continuity forced by the unsynchronised October half-term breaks. But while schools will want to enjoy the prestige that high rankings confer, more important is qualification for the Scottish Schools Cup quarter finals, entry to which will be determined by conference finishing positions.
In West Conference A where there was a full programme of matches last weekend, with Hutchesons’ Grammar School and St Aloysius College established as front-runners to book a place in the under-18 Cup after each made it three wins from three rounds .
Hutchesons’, enjoying something of a revival season, chalked up a 30-7 win over Glasgow Academy in their latest success, their centre Rory Cattenach scoring a hat-trick of tries to complement single contributions from scrum-half Nathan Devenenish and full-back Robbie Baird.
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“We started slowly against a well drilled and physical Glasgow Academy side and went into the break 10-7 ahead,” said the Hutchesons’ coach, Craig Sorbie, adding: “An increase in urgency, tempo and patience at the start of the second half allowed us to keep possession for longer periods of time resulting in us running in some great team scores”.
Glasgow Academy’s coach, Jonny Gordon, believes that his side can bounce back in their match this weekend against Marr College. “The boys know where they let themselves down and have made it clear they will work hard to improve,” he predicted.
For their part, St Aloysius College posted a 38-7 win over Glasgow High School at Millerston. Meanwhile, in the other West Conference A match, Kelviside Academy picked up their first win in the competition with a 34-21 victory over Marr College, with tries from Aaron Burgess, Odera Onyekwere, Jared Ebowemen, Calum Ferrie, Jack Morgan and Rory Semple, who also kicked two conversions.
The match, however, had to be stopped short because of injuries sustained by several Marr players, compounding an already difficult situation for the Troon side.
Over in the East Conference, Dollar Academy lead the charge for places in the Schools under-18 Cup quarters after a 20-6 home win over George Watson’s College. “Despite conditions we still tried to play running rugby,” said the Dollar coach Don Caskie, the former Scotland A centre. Tries by centre Angus Hunter and wings Aonaich Peden and Lyle Hunter showed the backs’ firepower, the other touchdown coming from No8 Johnny Rutherford.
The victory by Dollar made it three from three for the Clackmananshire school, the same record as Stewart’s-Melville College
At Goldenacre, Edinburgh Academy ran in tries by Charly Lamond, Oli Duncan and Ross Cadzow in defeating Heriot’s 15-7 for their first Conference win this season. For Heriot’s, Boris Stone scored his side’s try, converted by Ollie De Beaux .
All eight east schools will be in Conference A action this weekend with Edinburgh Academy facing an in-form Merchiston side, Watson’s hosting Strathallan, Dollar at home to Fettesm and Heriot’s taking on Stewart’s-Melville College.
In club rugby, wet weather forced the postponement of the opening matches in the top layer of the National Club Conference, meaning GHA were unable to test themselves against Ayr/Wellington, and Mackie had to forego their game at Bridgehaugh against Stirling County. Mackie and GHA will meet this Saturday in Stonehaven. Meanwhile, at Meggetland, Boroughmuir buoyed by their success at the Merchiston Festival in mid-October face Stirling County.
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If thoughts have turned to Cup qualification in schools rugby then that is also the case in the Borders Semi-Junior League. Leading the race are Hawick Youth, who burnished their credentials with a 17-10 win over Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps at the Volunteer Park.
Each side scored two tries, wing Rory Stanger and stand-off Owain Gray for Hawick, and front row Robbie Gunn (2) for Wasps, but it was the goal-kicking of Gray that made the difference, with the outside-half converting both tries and kicking a penalty goal.
The match was played last Friday night and according to Hawick’s team manager Paul McDonald: “It was watched by one of the largest crowds seen at the Volunteer Park for many years”.
He added: “It was a great spectacle of competitive rugby played by both sides. Hawick edged it both in their defensive line speed and also their game management in attack when they did get into the Melrose 22”.
For his part, Wasps’ coach Jerry Brett, said: ‘We were pretty disappointed with how we played but all credit to Hawick who put us under a lot of pressure with their line-speed. We’ll learn from this and come back stronger”.
Hawick can secure qualification for the Scottish Cup if they win against Kelso Quins on Saturday, while Melrose Wasps will determine how much they learned from last Friday’s game when they face a strong Gala Wanderers side.
Wanderers showed just how much they have improved in recent weeks by defeating Peebles Colts 54-17 at Netherdale with a hat-trick of tries by Ciaran Cochran and single efforts by Jack Niven, Ritchie Mitchell, Gregor Collins, Ker Johnson and James Glendinning. For Peebles, Ruaridh Smith, Finlay Sinclair and Rio Bhatia dotted down.
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