SOMEWHAT predictably the Schools U16 Cup semi draw will contain the same participants as the last four in the U18 Cup, albeit in a different order. Dollar Academy, who were 35-0 quarter-final winners over Glasgow High School, are at home to Stewart’s-Melville College on Friday 18th February and seven days later George Watson’s College play Merchiston Castle School at Myreside in an evening match.
Merchiston, however, only just scraped through against St Aloysius College in the rearranged match with a 13-12 home win last Saturday, the Colinton side’s tries scored by Hamish McArthur and Campbell Mack and an all important penalty goal from Theo Thom. The other postponed quarter-final played last Saturday was at Inverleith where Stewart’s-Melville College defeated Dundee High School 42-0 with an outstanding performance from stand-off Jamie Cain, who, aside from kicking six from six conversion attempts, controlled the game admirably in difficult conditions.
Meanwhile, the final of the School U18 Shield competition will be between Queen Victoria School and Loretto. QVS reversed the result of their Conference game against Morrison’s Academy last term by winning 24-8 while Loretto were 34-0 victors over Preston Lodge High School.
Loretto are also through to the semi-final of the Schools U16 Shield after defeating Howe of Fife/Bell-Baxter High School 26-17 at Musselburgh last Saturday in their quarter-final match and will line up against the winners of the yet-again postponed match between St Columba’s and North Berwick High School. The other semi-final will pair Strathendrick/Balfron High School, who defeated Berwick 29-26, and Queen Victoria School, 12-5 winners over Linlithgow Academy.
All the schools competitions will come to a head on 9th March but in the meantime Merchiston, who will face Stewart’s-Melville in the U18 final, kept themselves in shape by playing Ayr/Wellington, the result of which was a 27-14 win for the Colinton side.
Clubs will have to wait longer before the denouement of their Cup and Shield competitions, but in the south of Scotland at least, the Borders Semi Junior League continues apace, ensuring there is no vacuum of fixtures.
Hawick Youth lead the BSJL after recording their latest success, a 25-21 win over Kelso Quins at the Volunteer Park to remain undefeated in this competition. Hawick were hit by early tries for a fast-starting Kelso by Logan Edgar and Dylan Black, both converted by Archie Barbour to make it 14-0. But Hawick then found their rhythm to score tries through flanker Ruaidhri Forbes, No 8 Hughie Joe Donaldson, and centres Rory Stanger and Ben Jardine, with stand-off Owain Gray converting one of his side’s tries and kicking a penalty goal. Kelso had the final say in the matter of scoring, with a try from Chad Paterson again converted by Barbour but not enough to overturn the gap.
Hawick’s manager, Paul McDonald, conceded that his side had to work hard for their victory. “Kelso started the game far better than Hawick and played some of the best rugby we’ve seen from an opposition side this year and they fully deserved to be in front at half time,” he said. “However, we came out a different side in the second half and took control of the game. But Kelso did push us hard right to the end so we’re pleased with the way our boys dug deep and closed out the game for the win”.
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The young Greens will hope to carry their form into their trip to Wales this weekend when they will be hosted by long-time associate club, Glynneath, and will play in a special match. “We’re taking part in a game on Friday evening against Glynneath Youth,” explained McDonald. “Hawick and Glynneath have had a strong rugby connection for over 65 years (since 1956) and this year will be a particularly special event as the teams will be playing for the new ‘Tubby Cup’ to commemorate the Glynneath rugby stalwart, Michael ‘Tubby’ Griffiths, who sadly lost his battle with MND in October last year. Both sides will be also wearing special commemorative shirts”.
The other match played in the BSJL was at Netherdale where Gala Wanderers were narrow 12-7 winners over local rivals Melrose Wasps in what could be seen as a dress rehearsal for the National U18 Shield final next month.
“This was not a day for expansive rugby, but the lads tried to get it out to the flanks as much as possible,” observed Ewan Doyle, the Gala Wanderers manager, who saw his side score tries through Ben Young and Adam Robertson, Russell Kerr succeeding with one conversion attempt.
Melrose Wasps’ head coach Jerry Brett praised both teams for being able to play rugby in inhospitable weather. “This was a very close game in miserable conditions and credit to both sets of players,” he said. “Gala probably deserved it by playing the conditions better in the second half”. For Wasps, Hamish Derrick scored their try, converted by Luke Townsend.