West of Scotland 24
ALAN LORIMER @ Murrayfield
A DRAMATIC try in the last seconds of the game by the outstanding young flanker Liam McConnell gave Boroughmuir the National Youth Under-18 Cup title but while it was a sensational win for the Edinburgh side it was also an outstanding performance by West of Scotland who rose to the challenge against the top club side in Scotland this season.
In truth, this was one of the best National Youth Under-18 Finals seen at Murrayfield and certainly provided further proof that the standard within the club game is advancing each year and proof too that the standard of coaching has reached a new high.
West came into the final as underdogs but emerged with their reputation massively enhanced, such was their ability to challenge the unbeaten Boroughmuir side, albeit with a stuttering start. Speaking shortly after the final whistle, West’s coach, Millan Browne, admitted: “We started slowly today but then we came into it. We showed our fitness and our courage. I’m really proud of the boys”.
As for McConnell, the skilful flanker hopes his career in rugby can flourish. “I want to see how far I can go,” he said. “I’m really enjoying rugby at the moment and I’ll keep going and see where I end up. Hopefully one day I might play pro rugby.”
For Muir’s coach, Scott Anderson, this was his final game on the big stage with his team before he steps down from his present post. Immediately after the game he heaped praise on his young charges. “The boys have been absolutely fantastic this season and they do deserve the title,” he said. “It was a great final. West were fantastic today. Hopefully people will look at that and recognise the strength of club rugby.”
Boroughmuir wasted little time in reminding spectators at BT Murrayfield of their status as favourites by mounting an attack straight from the whistle which ended with McConnell crashing over for the opening try, converted by scrum-half Greg Anderson.
The busy Boroughmuir No 9 then added to his points tally with a penalty goal but if it seemed like the Meggetland side were on a one-way trail to a landslide victory then that changed when West turned on the style with a precision backline move and clever footwork which resulted in a try for centre Patrick Spence.
Charlie Greaves converted but just as the gap became tantalisingly narrow, Muir added a second try, this time with a fast finish from centre Nick Adler, Anderson adding the extra points again.
But yet again West confirmed that they were genuine challengers with a try by their skipper Kerr Yule after repeated forward surges near the Boroughmuir line.
Greaves’ conversion and then a penalty goal by the district stand-off levelled the scores at half time. The stasis remained until 24 minutes into the second half when, exploiting turnover ball, Boroughmuir attacked from deep showing good handling skills and providing an overlap for winger Ozzy Canakaivata to race over for his side’s third try, coolly converted from wide out by Anderson for a 24-17 lead.
In what was undoubtedly their best performance this century, West’s under-18s refused to accept this score as a mortal blow, hitting back with forceful forward play and clever handling moves before staging a series of phases on the Boroughmuir line, the siege ending with Yule diving over a pile of bodies for the try. Greaves then converted to level the scores.
Boroughmuir then had the chance to regain the lead when they were awarded a penalty but opted for the kick to the corner. The ensuing line-out and drive produced nothing but when West cleared their line Muir again went on the attack, which ended with McConnell racing over for the winning score and Anderson adding the optional conversion with the title already secured.
Boroughmuir: F Hollins-Kirk; L Bisset, N Adler, B Somerville, O Canakaivata; G Lockhart, G Anderson; F Gillgrass, J Blyth-Lafferty, R Moloney, C Burns, M McKay, L McConnell, E Smart, L Habib©. Subs: J Brooks, M Small, J Sobey, F Gray, B Clark, R Campbell, L Veitch.
West of Scotland: S Black; C McKay, P Spence, K Yule©, R Darroch; C Greaves, B Buchanan; S Sing, A Cameron, A Young, R Burke, E Thaqi, C Godber, Y Shaheen, C Rutherford, F Carden. Subs: R Dale, L Kearney, C Rutherford, L Howick, G Piccione, A Dunford, S Kelly.
Referee: C Worsley.
Boroughmuir: Tries: McConnell 2, Adler, Canacaivata; Cons: Anderson 4; Pen: Anderson.
West of Scotland: Tries: Spence, Yule 2; Cons: Greaves 3: Pen: Greaves.
Scoring Sequence (Boroughmuir first): 5-0; 7-0; 10-0; 10-5; 10-7; 15-7; 17-7; 17-12; 17-14; 17-17 (h-t) 22-17; 24-17; 24-22; 24-24; 29-24; 31-24.