U16 Boys National Youth Cup Final: GHA edge narrow win over Stirling County

The lead changed hands six times in a thrilling contest at Murrayfield

GHA squeezed a narrow win over Stirling County in the Boys' National Youth Cup Under-16s Final. Image: Bryan Robertson
GHA squeezed a narrow win over Stirling County in the Boys' National Youth Cup Under-16s Final. Image: Bryan Robertson

Stirling County 15

GHA 19

ALAN LORIMER @ Murrayfield

GHA claimed the National Youth Under-16 title after using their physicality and better skills behind the scrum to defeat a lively Stirling County side that had chances in the second half only to be met with tough resistance from the Glasgow Southside club. 

Crucially, this was a match that revealed yet again the huge improvement in skills level in the club game, and exhibited encouraging signs that the gap between this sector and the schools game is narrowing.

“I’m very very proud of the boys today, they played some great rugby and got stuck in defensively,” said Stewart Milne, the Stirling director of youth rugby. “All credit to GHA, their backs used the ball well.”

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GHA’s head coach, Kevin McGrory, agreed with Milne about the skill of his side’s back division and added: “I thought our forwards fronted up very well against a strong Stirling side.”

It took some 13 minutes of play for the youngsters to shrug off the inevitable feeling of agoraphobia on the vast plains of BT Murrayfield, when the game produced its first points, a penalty goal by Stirling’s live-wire scrum half Tom Nodes.

GHA, however, were quick to reply, engineering a score from a tap penalty that gave prop John Collins a try under the posts, leaving scrum-half Matt Inglis with an easy conversion kick.

The lead changed hands again when Stirling skipper Mick Kesson bored over from a driven line-out for an unconverted try but within minutes GHA were back on top when their captain, powerful centre Nicholas Thompson surged over from close range for a try converted by Inglis.

Then for the fourth time in the first half, the leaderboard again flipped after Kesson scored from a tap penalty, this time Nodes adding the extras to give Stirling County a 15-14 interval advantage .

GHA dominated proceedings for the opening 10 minutes of second half and were rewarded with what was the try of the match scored by winger Andrew Campbell from an on-the-money kick-pass executed by stand-off Ethan Jack.

Stirling had chances thereafter to score from mauls and close range forward attacks but the GHA defence remained solid enough to quell the County attack  ensuring that the Braidholm club claimed the under-16 National title.


Teams –

Stirling County: F Dempsey; A Lawrence, E Anderson, H McKay, R McDonald; B McGinley, T Nodes; J Shelvock, M Wicks, M Kesson, T McCulloch, S MacCallum, H Blackie, K Mooney, L Gray. Subs: R McKay, F Appleby, D Morrison, F Cadell, A Crivelli, A Banks, E O’Cinneide

GHA: J Geddes; A Campbell, O McKenna, N Thompson, K Robinson; E Jack, M Inglis; F Wheeler, B Carson, L McCusker, J Collins, R Muir, M Darroch, A Wilson, F Lonergan-Black. Subs: C Douglas, C Todd, J McGrory, O Heaney, J Brown, J Pollock, E Spence.

Referee: L Fish.


Scorers –

Stirling County: Tries: Kesson 2; Con: Nodes; Pen: Nodes.

GHA: Tries: Collins, Thompson, Campbell; Cons: Inglis 2.

Scoring Sequence (Stirling County first): 3-0; 3-5; 3-7; 8-7; 8-12; 8-14; 13-14; 15-14 (h-t) 15-19.

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About Alan Lorimer 238 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.