Schools/Youth Rugby: Mackie up and running with win over GHA

Peebles Colts continue their positive start to the season in the Border Semi Junior League by beating Gala Wanderers at Netherdale

West of Scotland picked up another big win, this time against Ayr/Wellington, on Saturday. Image Susie Hay
West of Scotland picked up another big win, this time against Ayr/Wellington, on Saturday. Image Susie Hay

IF North East rugby required a boost to its image then Mackie added spade loads with a thumping 57-5 win over GHA at Stonehaven in the second round of the Inspiresport National Club under-18 Conference. The result means that Mackie have now registered their first Conference points following their defeat to Boroughmuir at Meggetland in the first round of the competition. 

“We posted a much better performance than last week and our squad is starting to gel,” claimed Mackie’s head coach Andrew Buchanan. “Against GHA, we were more dominant in defence and produced better quality ball to our backline. GHA held us for the first 20 minutes then our pack had the edge. We’ve still some work-ons but we’re looking forward to a tough game at Ayr this coming Saturday”.

In a satisfying display Mackie scored tries through Conon Adams, Lamden MacGregor, Ben Nehring, Tate James, Angus Foubister, Hugo Freeman and Jake De Jager, with conversion goals from Conan Adams and Hunter Littlejohn.

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For GHA, whose points came from a try by Lewis McCormick, the scoreline in Stonehaven did not reflect the Braidholm club’s efforts according to their coach Kevin McGrory. He explained: “We were the better team in the first half but couldn’t put any points on the board. We then had a few injuries at the end of the first half and we only had one sub.”

At Bridgehaugh, Boroughmuir continued their successful start to the Conference season by defeating Stirling County 26-8 with tries by Luke Whitaker, Caleb Thomson, Gavin Lockhart and Jamie McCrae, plus three conversions from Lockhart

“Tough conditions for both teams in strong wind and some rain, resulting in some scrappy moments, but overall we were really pleased with the team’s performance,” stated Muir’s head coach, Richard Lockhart. “It was particularly pleasing to see the younger players we brought in playing so well as we were a few short due to injury”.

For Stirling, hooker Daniel Crawford scored his side’s only try, the remaining points coming from a penalty goal by scrum-half Tom Nodes.

“Boroughmuir were very physical and used the space allowed to them well in broken field,” said Stewart Milne, County’s director of youth rugby. “We started better this week. However a failure to capitalise on field position and pressure in the first 20 was followed by a few errors that offered up easy points to Boroughmuir meant we gave ourselves a big hill to climb.  Coaches and players alike know there is better within the squad and hope to show that in what will be tough trip to GHA at the weekend”.


Boroughmuir now occupy joint first position in the Conference under-18 table with West of Scotland, who, for a second successive week, achieved a big win, this time a 51-13 victory against Ayr at Millbrae, thanks to tries by flanker Emin Thaqi (2), centre Pat Spence (2), prop Adam Young, stand-off Charlie Greaves and prop Jonathan Taiwo, and five conversions and two penalty goals from Greaves.

West’s coach, Steven Meenagh, admitted it took time to break down Ayr, not helped by a his side’s failure to maintain strict discipline. He said: “The game was very tight in the first half with both teams frustrating attacks with good defence. We gave away eight penalties in the first half and that allowed Ayr to keep pressure on us.

“But the boys really clicked in the second half and pulled together as a team to play some really nice rugby. I was impressed with the energy of the subs and that helped see off Ayr and finish off a fantastic team performance” .

For Ayr, wing Max McCorkindale and outside centre Duncan Singh scored tries, the other points coming from a Jack Craig penalty goal. “For 45  minutes it was a closer game than it might seem but in the second half Ayr heads went down for 20 minutes during which West were ruthless and physical and piled on some soft tries,” observed Colin Duck, the Ayr coach

“West were strong across the pitch all game and deserved the win. If we can come away from that game with determination to play at that level for 70 mins every game and having learned that it takes attitude, work and consistency, then we can turn a bad loss into a major positive – there is no question the boys are capable.”

Peebles Colts got the better of Gala Wanderers in the Borders Semi Junior League.
Peebles Colts got the better of Gala Wanderers in the Borders Semi Junior League.


Meanwhile, in the second round of the Border Semi Junior League, Peebles showed their league-winning potential with a 45-14 victory at Netherdale over what is judged to be a strong Gala Wanderers side this season.  The powerful Peebles Colts side ran in seven tries, two by centre Patrick Cannon, and one apiece from second-row Ollie Furness, wings Rio Bhatia and Louis Whyte, replacement Louis Whyte and stand-off Frey Maciver, who also kicked four conversions. The other two-pointer was  slotted by replacement James Thomson.

For Gala Wanders, all their points were scored in the first half from a try each by wing Sam McAneny and flanker Aaron McLaren, both converted by stand-off Ethan Wilson.

“Gala started strongly with a couple of well worked tries but Peebles Colts found their rhythm scoring a number of excellent tries through a well drilled forward pack and a clinical back division. They are certainly early contenders for topping the league on this form,”  suggested Wanderers’ team manager, Mark Moncrieff.

Peebles face Hawick Youth on Friday night at The Gytes and certainly the young Greens will warm to the timing of this game if not to the strength of their opponents. Hawick arranged their match against Melrose Wasps for last Friday night and were rewarded with a big crowd at the Volunteer Park.

In the event Melrose Wasps were too strong for Hawick, winning 34-19 with tries from Jay Johnston, Ali Renton, Lochlan Rowley, Mackenzie Power and Andrew Kirk, three of these converted by Matthew Gaston, who also kicked a penalty goal.

“We asked that they win the physical battle and build momentum and I was just so impressed by how we did that and kept the ball alive. We got in behind them but fair play to Hawick, they never gave up and they won the second half. There’s some good players in their team. The difference probably was that we had an older and more mature team,” concluded the Melrose head coach, Jerry Brett.

Hawick trailed 0-19 at the interval but picked up their game after the break, scoring three tries, one each from Eli Hamilton, Owain Gray and Andrew Cannon, two of them converted by Gray to win the second half. “It was a game of two halves to use the old cliche,” said Hawick Youth’s recently appointed head coach, Garry Douglas. “What really impressed me in the second half was that we kept building”.

Last weekend was also the opening salvo in the Inspiresports National 1 Schools Conference. With several of the boarding schools just returning for the autumn term the only fixture to be played was Dollar Academy versus Edinburgh Academy. In the event Edinburgh Academy achieved a 17-0 win over Dollar with tries from Toby Edwin (2) and Ollie Duncan, two of the three conversions slotted by Thomas Whyte.

“I was delighted for the players. They’ve worked so hard since moving up to under-18 and to see them develop and then keep a side such as Dollar to no points was incredible” said Chris Martin, the Edinburgh Academy coach. “A good result, but it’s one match. Our focus now is to keep developing and work towards our game with Stewarts Melville College this Saturday.”

In the other two Conference matches on Saturday, George Watson’s College face Strathallan School and Merchiston are at home to Dollar.

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About Alan Lorimer 352 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.


  1. Excellent in depth coverage. What price some games among the top schools and top U18 clubs, with sensible age/ weight parity rules. Top school teams currently get about two truly competitive games in a whole season – no good for anyone least of all the players who can coast along. At the Merchiston open festival last season Scottish U18 club teams were taking on the best school teams in hard fought games and winning. More of this is surely what we need ?

    • I strongly agree, School rugby is the least inclusive aspect of the game, in my county not one school plays rugby so we are dependent on club rugby.

  2. Excellent, continuing coverage in TOL by Alan Lorimer of the Schools / Youth scene across the country.

    No easy task – lang may yer lum reek, AL!

  3. Good article on Youth rugby and SOME school
    Conferences – what about the school conferences
    In the West ?


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