U16 Schools Cup Final: Stewart’s-Melville bounce back from early scare versus Strathallan

Edinburgh side triumph in a high scoring contest

Stewart's Melville defeated Strathallan in the final of the U16 Scottish Schools Cup. Image: Stewart's Melville.
Stewart's Melville defeated Strathallan in the final of the U16 Scottish Schools Cup. Image: Stewart's Melville.

Strathallan School 24

Stewart’s-Melville College  43

ALAN LORIMER @BT Murrayfield

TITLE favourites Stewart’s-Melville College confirmed the pundits’ predictions after lifting the Scottish Schools Under-16 Cup by defeating Strathallan School in a high scoring final on the international pitch at BT Murrayfield.

But given the Conference score of 38-3 that Stew-Mel achieved against Strathallan earlier in the season, the Perthshire school produced a robust performance and in scoring four tries showed that they were more than capable of challenging the under-16 National Conference winners.

Stew-Mel’s coach Jimmy Moran, however, was realistic about the previous scoreline against Strathallan. He said: “It was definitely a scoreline that flattered us. We had to work very hard for it. It was only 14-3 for us at half time, probably against the run of play, and we scored most of our points in the final ten minutes.


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“We knew Strath were a very capable side, very physical and carried ball well. So we needed to perform well today. We had worked hard on our back field coverage because we knew they would put us under pressure from our kicking game. And that just allowed us to play in the right areas of the pitch. We won some penalties with good defence, but importantly we executed when we were in their 22 metre area.”

The odds might have been against a Strath victory but the Perthshire school certainly set about defying the predictions in the opening ten minute period when they dominated territory and possession.  And deservedly it was Strathallan who grabbed the first points of the match with a close range try from prop Ramsay Scott converted by stand-off Adam Williamson.

The reply by Stew-Mel was swift and decisive. After running two penalty awards, the Inverleith side pounded the Strath line before sending the ball wide to the pace men, for full back Callum Jessop to score. It was a difficult conversion kick for Howie Offord but the stand-off nailed the extra points with aplomb.

Stew-Mel were back on the offensive soon after and this time they put their trust in the forwards to garner points, as second-row Ollie Anderson piled over for his side’s second try, again accurately converted by Offord.

Now it was time for Strathallan to respond positively with good work from the forwards and then crisp passing among the backs ending with winger Tom Smith racing in at the corner for an unconverted try..

Then, with half time approaching and with Strath one short after Max Clark was shown the yellow card, Stew Mel turned on the power up front to score a third try, this time another close range effort from Anderson to give Stew-Mel a 19-12 advantage at the break.

 

Having led at half time Stew-Mel increased their lead early in the second half with a try that came from good handling by the backs and a powerful finish from hooker Taylor Gray, Offord adding the extras.  Then a solo effort by centre Adam Munro and the conversion by Offord inflated Stew-Mel’s lead to 21 points with the scoreline at 33-12.

Offord, who was enjoying himself off the tee, then used his skill with the boot to kick a penalty goal, but almost immediately Strath added to their points tally with yet another close range try, by flanker Alex Mackenzie this time.

Inspired by this score, Strath started playing with more confidence, and were ultimately rewarded with a try from two metres out by prop Max Clark, and the conversion by Conor Ferry.

Stew-Mel eager to have the final say in the match looked on course to add a further try only for a high tackle by Strath’s Fergus Sherlock to prevent the score, earning the Strath player a yellow card and Stew-Mel a penalty try, which were the final points of the game.

 

Teams –

Stewart’s-Melville: C Jessop; J Kane, A Munro, R Cavin, J Bennett; H Offord, L MacLeod; F McLean, T Gray, J Page, D Anderson, C Geddes, C Robertson, B Rosevear, E McDonald. Replacements: J Jarvis, A O’Hara, R Ktrezschmar, A Abel, F Percy-Robb, Z Mathieson, J Penny.

Strathallan: R Piper; T Smith, D Mickel, J Langley, F Todd; A Williamson, C Ferry; M Clark, M Erasmus, R Scott, A McMichael, S Goodman, F Thomson, A Mackenzie, E Anderson. Replacements: O Poutney, F Murray, T Christie, O Mowat, F Sherlock, E Anderson,  F Trotter.

Referee: Lee Fish

 

Scorers –

Strathallan School: Tries: Scott, Smith, Mackenzie, Clark; Cons: Ferry 2.

Stewart’s-Melville College: Tries: Jessop, Anderson 2, Gray, Munro, Penalty Try; Cons: Offord 4; Pen; Offord.

Scoring Sequence (Strathallabn first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7; 7-12; 7-14; 12-14; 12-19 (h-t) 12-24; 12-26; 12-31; 12-33; 12-36; 17-36; 22-36; 24-36; 24-43.

 

Yellow cards –

Strathallan School: Clark, Sherlock.

 

Player-of-the-Match: Stew-Mewl’s stand-off Howie Offord not only posted fine kicking stats but also displayed a range of rugby skills that made him a valuable asset to his team and as such he deservedly wins the player-of-the-match award

Talking point: Stewart’s-Melville went in to the Cup final as favourites and duly delivered. But Strathallan deserve plaudits for their role in  such a competitive match. The final, however, exposes a problem, which is one of familiarity. Schools rugby in Scotland at this age-grade would appear to be played in too small a pool amongst sides who have known their opponents from an early age. One wonders if the involvement of clubs might breathe new life into what is a narrow band competition?


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About Alan Lorimer 274 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.

5 Comments

  1. First of all well done both sets of players and coaches. Whish a borders school had made it but not to be, The fact is schools sides need committed invested coaches which some top conference private schools have but many private schools have coaches who are more interested in their adult side in the afternoon. Blending school and club would fix that 0 like they do at North Berwick and Marr for example. Would also stop the mess that is happening in West where parents choose school or club year on year in pursuit of “winning” and absolutely running rugby for loads of ladsl with super squads thrashing all in Youth and no games in school and vice versa. Yours aye.

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  2. The top clubs playing the top schools in the cup is absolutely the best option. I hope common sense can prevail and the Saturday/Sunday divide doesn’t get in the way.

  3. Club and schools should play on the Sunday at under 16 and 18.
    The scottish game would benefit from more teams playing different opposition.
    At the moment a player really can’t play for school and a club anyway so this would be worth trying however a lot of kids play football on a Saturday so it has to be kept on a Sunday so that the clubs do not lose players

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    • No, it doesn’t have to be on a Sunday. That might fit your needs but it is not in the interest of the schools. Hence the reason it has not happened.

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      • Thought it was worth mentioning the applause for Doddie Weir, an ex SM pupil, at the start and the my name’5 Doddie tartan numbers worn by the SM boys as a mark of respect for their FP.

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