ALAN LORIMER @ The DAM Health stadium
EDINBURGH retained the 1872 under-18 Cup after achieving a narrow win over Glasgow at The Dam Health Stadium in a match where the level of skill and the physicality of many of the players points to a steadily improving level in this age group.
Last season Edinburgh won by a huge margin but in this year’s iteration of the competition there was little to separate the two teams. The Edinburgh side selected from Edinburgh, East Lothian and the Borders simply scored slightly more points than their opponents, whose players were the pick of young talent from Glasgow, the south west and Caledonia.
In national terms this was a chance for the Scotland under-18 management to assess which players could be selected for the Six Nations Festival being played in Ireland in April. Scotland head coach Ross Miller was pleased with what he saw, saying: “I thought both teams tried to play, tried to get extra passes, tried to keep ball in play and that’s something we want to aspire to from a national perspective.
This weekend’s Scottish Cup results:
“We want them to play well for their regions and show all the good work that’s going on there. Overall, I thought it was a really entertaining game to watch. We’ll now select a wider group and they’ll start to come together on a Wednesday night and they’ll train all the way through to the Festival. We’ll have our first national camp at the end of February and that will involve the Exiles.
“The Exiles are working well on their own programme. They have their Academies final in a couple of weeks time and we’ll then connect with them,” Miller confirmed.
Scotland have one international match before the Six Nations Festival and that will be against Wales on 19th March.
Miller will be able to call on the experience of three players who were in the national under-18 side last season, Jack Brown, the Watson’s College full-back, scrum-half Hector Patterson, who is in Hawick’s Premiership squad, and centre John Ventisei, who has been playing senior rugby with GHA. All three looked sharp in this game and will surely be back for a second season in the Scotland team.
The match itself was played at pace and it was Glasgow who were first to register points after dominating possession and territory for the opening ten minutes, their score, triggered by clever inter-passing close to the left touchline, was an unconverted try by full-back Sam Lewini.
Edinburgh, however, were not to be restrained for long and were rewarded for a period of pressure by a penalty fromBrown. Then, with the capital youngsters looking increasingly dangerous,Edinburgh made the best of a trenchant run by No 8 Oliver Duncan to score a try through the supporting Patterson, Brown converting for a 10-5 interval advantage.
A second try by Lewini drew Glasgow level but the see-saw nature of the scoring once more manifested itself as Edinburgh struck back with a close range try by replacement hooker Fergus Bell, Brown adding the conversion.
Then when Glasgow’s replacement hooker Joe Roberts finished off good work by Ventisei, and replacement stand-off Andrew Storie converted the sides were once more level, only for Edinburgh to score the clinching try through winger Eddie Murray, Brown again converting for a 100 percent record off the tee.
“It was good to see 51 home based players in a very competitive game and especially so after last season’s one-sided match,” commented Robert Grigg, the Edinburgh coach. “We won it through a few individual performances: Freddy Douglas, our seven, got a few good turnovers, Isaac Coates at ten put us into good positions and Jack Brown’s goal-kicking with three tough conversions and a penalty. It’s going to be really tough to whittle the squad down≥”
Glasgow’s coach, Euan Clark, praised Edinburgh for their set-piece and their contact skills. He added: “It was a good advert for this level of rugby. It’s a shame we just had the one game. Ideally we could play home and away. It’s going to be very competitive getting into the national team.”
Edinburgh: J Brown (George Watson’s College); N Moncrieff (Gala), T Russell (Stewart’s-Melville College), J Hocking (Edinburgh), E Murray (Edinburgh Academy); I Coates (Merchiston Castle), H Patterson (Hawick); B White (Peebles), E McGeoch (Boroughmuir), O Blyth-Lafferty (Boroughmuir), J Arnold (Loretto/Musselburgh), C Lindsay (Loretto), F Wood (George Heriot’s School), F Douglas (Stewart’s-Melville College), O Duncan (Edinburgh Academy). Substitutes: F Bell (Hawick Youth), A McGregor (Merchiston Castle), O Furness (Peebles HS/Peebles), L Graham (Preston Lodge/Preston Lodge HS), G Crawford (Merchiston Castle), H Alderson (Stewart’s-Melville College), B Roger (Stewart’s-Melville College), C Thomson (Merchiston Castle), H Thomas (Loretto/Musselburgh), C Thomson (Boroughmuir)
Glasgow: S Leweni (Queen Victoria School); J Craig (Ayr), J Ventisei (St Aloysius College), J Townshend (Strathallan School), F Watson (Biggar); M Urwin (St Aloysius College), S Black (West of Scotland); O Bowden (GHA), S Stephen (Glenalmond College/Aberdeen Grammar), J Shearer (Ayr), L Fergusson (Dumfries Saints), B Nehring (Mackie), N Torkington (Stirling County), C Nolan (Glasgow Hawks), F Spurway (Glenalmond College). Substitutes: J Roberts (Robert Gordon’s College), E Lee (Queen Victoria School), M Kesson (Stirling County), M Timmins (Dunfermline), P Spence (West of Scotland), R Baird (Hutcheson’s Grammar School), A Storie (Dunfermline), Y Davie (Merchiston Castle School), T Natiri (Queen Victoria School), B Morriss (Deeside/Gordonians).
Referee: C Worsley.