Stewart’s Melville College 24 George Watson’s College 14
Stewart’s Melville College under-18 boys rugby captain Duncan Hood admitted he was “over the moon” after his side put in a clinical performance to defeat George Watson’s College in the Scottish Schools Cup final at BT Murrayfield last Wednesday evening.
In a top-quality match where the two sides really went at it in a great advert for schools’ rugby, Stewart’s Melville eventually came out on top 24-14 to lift the silverware.
Hood, the captain and hooker, said: “Ever since we went away to Canada in the summer on tour this squad has been close knit and it has all been about hard work, more hard work and even more hard work to get us to this stage and it has really paid off.
“The level of detail that the coaches Mr Edwards and Mr Wood go into is absolutely insane and the boys have really bought into that and become a strong unit.
“We know what we want to do out there on the pitch, because of our analysis we often know what other teams are going and we just stick to our game plan – these are exciting times for rugby at the school.”
One of those coaches mentioned by Hood, SMC’s Head of Rugby Stuart Edwards, added: “We wanted to get off to a quick start in the game and Duncan led by example by making a big carry off the first kick off and things went from there.
“The first half performance was excellent, in the second half there were a few more hairy moments when we didn’t exit as we would have liked, but the boys showed desire and work rate in defence to see us through to the win.
“The attitude of this group is amazing, they always work diligently at training and to get ready for matches. They are the best group of kids I have ever worked with.”
Stewart’s Melville got off to a flying start, finding themselves 10-0 up early on in the match with second-row Dominic Gray and then Hood going over for unconverted tries.
Watson’s battled their way back into it when second-row Max Raitt scored a try with centre Euan Maguire converting to make it 10-7.
Stewart’s Melville did not panic – Hood and other leaders such as Finlay Campbell, Christian Townsend and Jamie Thompson kept calm heads on the biggest stage of all.
Matthew Russell, the Stewart’s Melville centre, then scored (and converted) a try to make it 17-7 at half-time. In the lead up to the try there was a great run by loosehead prop Mikey Jones: one of many parts of his performance that saw him named player of the match later on by Scotland forwards Simon Berghan and Grant Gilchrist.
After the break, George Watson’s were on the front foot straight away and that led to a try from their loosehead prop Conor Myles. Maguire was on hand to convert and at 17-14 it really was ‘game on’.
Again, Stewart’s Melville stayed calm and regrouped and they were soon back in Watson’s territory.
With 15 minutes to go they scored their fourth try through tighthead prop Kaysan Davidson, converted by Russell from wide out, to go 24-14 up.
Watson’s were not done yet though and they laid siege to the Stewart’s Melville line in the last 10 minutes only to be repelled by some great defence led by Hood and his pack colleagues.
When the ball was kicked high into the stand to signal full-time there was jubilation in the ranks as the players, cheered on by family and friends and the wider ESMS community, reflected on a job very well done.
Stewart’s Melville College under-18 squad: Jamie Thompson; Bruce McNulty, Aidan Boyle, Matthew Russell, Aidan Cross; Christian Townsend, Finlay Campbell; Mikey Jones, Duncan Hood (C), Kaysan Davidson, Aaron Robertson, Dominic Gray, James Mather, Lachlan McGrigor, Robert Gordon. Subs: Theo Marcus, Craig Affleck, Matt Robertson, Ruairidh Chisholm, Jamie Burns, Dan King, Archie Morris.