THE NATIONAL YOUTH UNDER-16S CUP has thrown up what should be two intense semi-finals involving four of the big guns at this age level, Stirling County, Boroughmuir, GHA and Peebles Colts, making Sunday 27th February a must-watch for fans of this sector.
Stirling County, who finished top of the under-16 table in the National Conference, are away from home for a second successive round for their last four tie against Boroughmuir at Meggetland in a repeat of the encounter between the clubs’ under-18 sides last Saturday.
The Bridgehaugh men showed both style and strength in their quarter-final match against Gala Red Triangle at Netherdale on Sunday, winning 37-19 against a young Maroons side that is still in a rebuild process as part of an overhaul of youth rugby in the Borders town.
Centres Hamish McKay (2) and Ellis Anderson (12), wing Rory McKay, hooker Harry Adams, skilful prop Mickey Kesson (3) and No 8 Logan Gray accounted for the Stirling tries while for Gala Red Triangle No 8 James Bell, hooker Luke Scott and prop Rowan Chalmers touched down.
“We walked away pleased with much of the game against a very tenacious and capable Gala side. In saying that, there are lots of areas we know we need to improve in to keep progressing in the cup” said Stirling’s director of youth rugby, Stewart Milne.
For their part Boroughmuir, had a 12-0 win over Dumfries Saints to book a place in the last four. Meanwhile, GHA had a comfortable 53-3 win over Ellon at Braidholm, who will now face a semi-final against the Borders Town Conference winners at under-16 level, Peebles Colts.
Peebles will go into their semi-final against GHA having pulled off a sensational 58-7 win over Ayr/Wellington at The Gytes where winger Louis Whyte ran in five tries as the Borderers, playing a fast open game, ran riot against the west coast side.
What makes this win such a shock scoreline is that Ayr/Wellington finished second in the National Conference at this age-grade, just one point behind winners, Stirling County. The test for the Borderers, however, will be playing away from home in the semi-final against GHA.
If the Under-16 Cup offered up four quality quarter-finals the same cannot be said about the Shield ties, two of which were not played because the visiting teams had insufficient players. Both of these luckless sides, Deeside/Garioch and Aberdeen Wanderers, are from the north-east, a region identified as one which is in trouble, rugby-wise.
Observers, however, will note that the three north-east sides involved in the Cup and Shield at under-16 level were all drawn away, hardly an encouragement for these clubs. Would it not have been better in the Shield, at least, to have had the two north-east clubs playing each other?
As a result of the ‘numbers’ problem with the north-east clubs, Whitecraigs and Kelso will meet in the semi-final without having fired a shot. The other under-16 Shield semi-final is between Dundee Rugby and Hawick Youth. Dundee sailed into the last four with a 50-0 win over Dunfermline while Hawick Youth had a similarly emphatic win, putting Cartha QP to the sword with a 55-0 victory at the Volunteer Park.
By playing their quarter-finals last Sunday, the Club Cup and Shield at under-16 level was not blighted by the storm force conditions experienced by the schools sector on Saturday. The other factor that worked against the schools was the timing of the under-16 matches, scheduled to be played before the under-18 games, meaning that decisions about going ahead with the games became an early call.
In the event, Merchiston’s under-16 Cup game against St Aloysius College at Colinton, Stewart’s-Melville’s tie with Dundee High School, and the Robert Gordon’s College match with George Watson’s College were all postponed. The latter match, however, was played midweek and in the event Watson’s made their trip to Aberdeen a worthwhile journey by coming away with a 68-17 win over Gordon’s. The only Cup game that did go ahead on Saturday was Dollar Academy’s home tie with Glasgow High School, which resulted in a 35-0 win for the Clackmananshire school.
The Schools’ Under-16 Shield matches was equally storm-affected resulting in postponements of the St Columba’s versus North Berwick HS and the Queen Victoria School and Linlithgow Academy quarter-final ties, which along with Loretto’s match against Howe of Fife/Bell Baxter HS will now be played this Saturday.
The one game that did go ahead in the Shield was the Strathendrick/Balfron HS versus Berwick RFC, which resulted in a narrow 29-26 win for the home side, confirming the progress and good co-operative work that is happening in the Stirlingshire club.
- Marr scrum-half Sinjin Broad has been added to the bench for Scotland Under-20s’ clash against England at the DAM Health Stadium tonight, as a replacement for Glasgow Hawks back-row Tim Brown.