Edinburgh Academy lifted the under-18 Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools’ Cup with the last kick of the game tonight in front of a record 5821 crowd at Murrayfield (13-11).
Stewart’s Melville College registered the only points in a relatively quiet first-half, with a lot of “feeling out” taking place on both sides.
Perfectly placed position kicks from Stew-Mel full-back Scott Cook did well to keep the well-drilled and threatening Academy side at bay while captain and man of the match contender Michael Crawley’s change of pace and running lines were a regular threat in midfield.
In spite of this it took over half an hour for the game to feature a score when Cook slotted a difficult penalty from far and wide to send his side 3-0 up at the break.
Half time: 3-0
Both sets of players came out of the changing rooms in a far more relaxed mood and, as the game loosened, the first-half’s tactical grubbers were swapped for the full-throttle, try-scoring, running-rugby expected at such an occasion.
Edinburgh Academy were the first to cross the whitewash when some great forward/back interplay found them in front of the posts, deep in the Stew-Mel 22.
After successive crashes deepened their position it was on to throw the ball wide but Binnian collected a short pass at pace and burst through for the score at the sticks.
Man of the match, captain and stand-off, Fraser Gillies, slotted the conversion and a drop goal to extend the recently acquired lead, 10-3.
Stew-Mel then battled back with a try of their own made by captain Crawley and finished by Cook.
The inside-centre, with a mind as quick as his change of pace and direction, spotted it was on out wide and, with a two man overlap he ran the right line, used his outside men as a decoy and gassed through the middle before drawing in the last defender at full pace and passing cleanly to the supporting full-back to dot down at the corner flag, 10-8
Critically, Cook’s missed conversion meant his side still trailed however he made no mistake with a penalty two minutes from time to put his team back in the lead, 10-11.
However Edinburgh Academy’s fighting spirit, so evident in their 19-15 semi-final victory over George Watson’s College, saw them battle deep into the Stew-Mel 22 as the game drew to an end.
This was, however, not to be his last opportunity.
A Stew-Mel offside awarded the Scotland under-18 stand-off a final chance on goal, this time without the pressure of a rushing defense but with the expectation of his team resting firmly on his shoulders.
But with the kick at goal in front of the posts, he stepped up and clipped his effort through, confining Stewart’s Melville College to a heart-breaking second successive under-18 cup final defeat.
The Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Cup Final is the first in the series of top youth rugby action taking place at the home of Scottish Rugby with the National Under-15 and Under-16 Finals (21 February) and National Under-18 Youth Cup Finals (25 April) kicking-off in the coming weeks.
Like all Scottish Rugby youth and age-grade representative fixtures, admission to the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools’ Cup final on Thursday 11 February is FREE (first match kick-off 6pm).
Adam Simpson; Angus Normand, Ben Brown, Matthew Zegleman, Tom Whittle; Fraser Gillies CAPTAIN, James Munro; Roddy Campbell, Struan Moodie, Struan Murphy, David Forbes, Henry Binnian, Nasos Plevris, Lawrie Seydak VICE CAPTAIN, Chris Dean
Tom Normand, Dan Falkner, Greig Blackie, Jamie MacLean, Alex Glashan, Robin Cumming, Jamie Farndale
Stewart’s Melville College
Scott Cook; Andrew Hughes, Alex Hagart, Michael Crawley CAPTAIN, Max Batchelor; Andrew Warnock, Jonny Gilfillan; Max Campbell, Jamie Cook, George Turner, Ben Docherty, Ross Mcphail, Neil Bowie, Andrew Wilson, Ben Johnstone
Fraser Napier, Hugh Lindsay, Chris Leask, Murray Tainton, Jack Hannay, Charlie Taylor, David St Clair