Edinburgh & Borders U16 Pathway Report

Under 16 Pathway Week 1 at Netherdale

Glorious day as Gala hosts Pathway Festival

After a week of torrential rain in the Borders, the weather changed to host a festival of flowing and enterprising rugby as the Pathway programme within the East of Scotland got underway.  Players from all areas converge to show case their skills and begin the selection process which will lead this year towards a Scotland U16s side being announced in early 2012.

The first games saw the Borders Eastern Stormers face Edinburgh’s Western Chargers and from the start the Stormers took control with some penetrating runs from the forward pack and supported some running back play the Stormers scored several unanswered points through a James Donaldson hatrick, Rory Marshall and Cole Lothian.   Eventually the Charges forced their way back into the game through a well work try by fullback Jamie Batho and converted the points himself.  The second half ended in one way traffic as the Stormers scored further tries through Cameron Johnston, Stephen Ainslie, Shane Armstrong, and Blair Robertson to finish 45 points to 7 winners.

The two remaining Edinburgh based sides met in the second game as the Eastern Eagles took on the Capital Crusaders in an open and even contest. The Crusaders came out the stronger racing to a 3 try lead through some effective offloading and excellent catching and passing to get into the wider spaces. The Eagles struck back just before half time to make the score 19 – 5 going into the half. As both sides made changes and brought on fresh players the game opened up a lot in the second half as Crusaders midfield of Finn Murphy, Craig Hunter and Ben Porteous shone well with 2 further tries to the Crusaders. The introduction of back row Ally Miller and the return of scrum half Andrew Manson sped the game up for the Eagles and Fraser McMillan was always a threat with the ball in hand which contributed to 3 further tries to the Eagles to make the final score 29 – 24 in favour of the Crusaders. Both sides will be looking to tidy up on the breakdown area this week and also the ‘game sense’ and decision making of the players to ensure that players are not following the ball and recycling themselves for the next phase.

The final games saw the remaining Borders side host the East Lothian Falcons and even after the bus trip down came out of the blocks to score an early try and lead 7 points to nil.  The Falcons continued to dominate at the contact area and whilst the Warriors struggled to hold onto possession.  Eventually the game began to even itself out the Borders were unlucky to have a try from Jordan Hislop disallowed for a knock on, but eventually scored through in the through Jack Elloitt either side of half time

This was a start of a come back from the Warriors, Craig Pringle and Darren Knox adding the conversion.  The Falcons hit straight back and although a try a piece were exchanged the winning blow from the falcons came from Luke Taylor rounded his defender to score under the post and with the added conversion the Falcons took the spoils in a 24-26 point victory.

Week 2 at Lasswade

“Pathway Lads show the Way at Lasswade”

The final stage of the local Pathway programme in the East was completed in Lasswade over the weekend and after the promising performances in the 1st weekend within the Borders a strong crowd turned out to watch all 3 final games.

The first games saw the Eastern Stormers travel from the Borders to play Edinburgh’s Eastern Eagles and strong performances from both sides set a promising tone for the day.  After some early exchanges it was the Stormers who opened the scoring through Cameron Johnston.  Both sides demonstrated some good tackling which prevented either side creating opportunities to score, however Eagles Andrew Manson was involved in both tries for his team just before half time, firstly a cheeky intercept from a lineout before Calum Connelly crossed and then a neat grubber which resulted in Andrew Mawbey going over from close range. Eagles went in at 12-5 at half time.  With all the subs coming off the bench as part of the programme protocol the Eagles were stunned straight from the kick off when some balanced running from Sam Cuthers ended in a try for the Borderers and George Taylor added the conversion.  The Stormers buoyed by the quick leveller pushed further ahead with a try from Shane Armstrong finishing off some powerful runs from the pack.  Again Taylor added the conversion.  The Eagles had some good opportunities of their own to score and get back into the game but brave defending from the visitors they remained just in front.  With only minutes left the win was secured with Johnston scampering into the corner to score his 2nd try and leave the final score of 24 – 12 to the Stormers.

The Western Warriors, the other visiting Borderer team faced the Capital Crusaders and struggled to get off the bus with the Edinburgh side scoring some quick tries through excellent hands to settle into a comfortable lead with a double to fullback Calum Ramm. With a much improved defensive performance the Warriors began to gain some opportunities of their own and scored through 2nd row Mark Patterson and centre Jack Elliott, with one conversion coming from Struan Hutchison. The rattled Crusaders picked up the pace to add two further tries to turn around at the break still in front.  The same 3 players were involved for both of the last first half tries with Jamie Gilmour and Dougal Balfour combining well at 8 and 9 for centre Ben Porteous to cross. In the 2nd half the Warriors bounced back with some excellent offloading to allow Murray Brown to score two tries supported with a try from Craig Pringle. The best try of the day came from the Crusaders in between these as another Gilmour offload following a lineout play and some slick handling from Porteous sent Finn Murphy in at the corner. Final score 25-24 to the Crusaders.

The final match saw the East Lothian Falcons put in a good team performance against the Western Chargers. The Falcons raced to a 24 – 0 first half lead with some aggressive forward play and some nice continuity play in the backs for Paul McClung, Matthew McPhillips (2) and Jason Gray. Aaron Mason got the Chargers on the team sheet shortly after halftime but then the Falcons switched back into gear with further tries from Ewan Patrizzo, Leo Gordon and Jack Hamilton to move the scoreline to 43 – 7. The Chargers nabbed the last try of the match after a lucky bounce from the resulting kick off was well chased by Kyle Bendall to score next to the sticks to round off the days rugby at 43 – 14.

Thanks to all volunteer coaches, the host clubs, the officials and the players for a successful 2 weeks of Pathway rugby. The next stage will be each player receiving a ‘player report’ from the relevant coach on areas of strength and also areas to develop. There will be invitations to a National Camp in October for some players and then Regional Squad invitations for some player to follow also. Borders in September / October and Edinburgh in December.

Ben Fisher & Chris Dewsnap.