Jed Thistle and Ayr were crowned National Youth League Cup champions in the under-18 and under-16 competitions, respectively, today at Lasswade.
In a closely fought battle of the packs, Jed-Thistle stopped Ayr’s dream of the double, winning 11-7 in an exciting match that went down to the wire, in the under-18 Cup final.
Jed-Thistle coach, Callum Brown, said: “The boys have worked extremely well all year, and this is a just reward for all their efforts.
“We’re more than proud of their display today, at times it was tough but they stuck in and came out the with the goods. They should be delighted with themselves, they’ve done the club and the town proud.
The Border side controlled the game throughout, channelling much of their go-forward through their heavy-set and domineering pack, yet at times lacked that finishing touch giving their opposition a couple of life-lines.
An early penalty from number-eight Shane Armstrong, put Jed in-front early doors until just before the interval when Ayr’s patience in attack was rewarded with a converted try, giving them a 7-3 lead at half-time.
Jed-Thistle retaliated with a try only minutes after the start of the second half, the missed conversion ensuring they only led by one point. However, from this point on the Jed pack ensured the victory would be theirs as they continued to bulldoze up the park throughout. After missing a number of long-range efforts and opportunities to widen the gap, Armstrong eventually hit the sweet spot, slotting a penalty to close the scoring at 11-7.
Brown, continued: “This was a very fast-paced game and we done well to hold Ayr out on a number of occasions.
“We made it difficult for ourselves at times. We could have taken our chances early in the second-half and put the game to bed but we failed to do so.
“However, the boys kept their heads down and ground out the victory which is the most important thing.”
In addition to Armstrong’s penalty, captain Oliver Brown scored the Jed-Thistle’s only try of the game, with hooker Lewis Anderson grabbing the score for the opposition, Samuel Gray slotting the conversion.
The most monumental and daring of comebacks from Ayr, saw them crowned as champions of the National Youth League under-16 Cup today, where they beat Currie 26-22, in a thrilling final.
Ayr coach, Angus Bunten, said “We’re delighted for all involved with the team, the players themselves, the club and those behind the scenes, especially the parents who give up a lot of their own time so these boys can play rugby.”
Currie, were by far the more dominant of the sides in the first half, reflected by their deserved 22-0 half-time lead. Fly-half and captain, Fraser Wright, orchestrated Currie’s first-half onslaught, dictating the pace of the game as well as using his accurate and powerful boot to put his team into the right areas of the park.
However, Ayr’s belief and resilience was apparent as they mounted an almighty comeback to snatch the victory from the jaws of defeat. Ayr’s centre combination of Paddy Dewhirst and Aaron Tait were particularly impressive, leading the charge and playing a crucial part in the majority of their team’s scores. They were aided by the clinical finishing of Jamie Robert’s who was on end of three of his team’s scores.
“From an early age we’ve tried to instil belief, flair, guts and determination into this team and today they displayed all of these qualities, something we’re immensely proud of.”
Jamie Roberts scored a hat-trick of tries for Ayr, his fellow winger Elliot Skeoch grabbing the other, in addition to successfully converting three of the scores.
Currie’s scores came from full-back Bryn Perrot, lock Cameron Harrison and stand-off Wright, who also added a penalty and converted two of his side’s tries.
Jed-Thistle v Ayr, National Youth League under-18 Cup
Jed Thistle team: Callum McNeil; Joe Amos, Rory Marshall, Robbie Yourston, Aiden Walker; Rory Smith, Ben McNeil; Ryan Gibson, Craig Cowan, Cole Lothian, Clark Skeldon, Jamie Hynd, Oliver Ryan (captain), Gregor Paxton and Shane Armstrong.
Replacements: Arron Richardson, Arrun Storie, Scott Samson, Grant Paxton, Gary Munro, Finlay Duff and Robbie Douglas.
Ayr team: John McCorkindale; Hamish McIntosh, Oliver Craig, Gregor Paxton, Samuel Gray; David Lymburn, Jack Preston; Brian Kelly, Lewis Anderson, Nathan Gilmore, Callum Hamilton, Ross Hay, Owen Gemmell, Gregor Henry and Craig Stevenson.
Replacements: Gregor Lynch, Stephen Naylor, Stewart Angus, Andrew Harvey, Callum Cook, Ross Gilmour and Zac Howard.
Referee: Duncan McClement
Man of the match: Ryan Gibson.
Ayr v Currie, National Youth League under-16 Cup
Ayr team: Mark Conlon; Elliot Skeoch, Aaron Tait, Paddy Dewhirst, Jamie Roberts; Taylor Bunten, Michael Manning; Ruairidh Sayce, Gavin Hollins, Ryan Dunlop, Antony Hall, Andrew McColm, Billy Thomson, Calum Gaw and Alexander Howie (captain).
Replacements: Lee White, Joseph Conlon, David Kerr, Robbie Nicol, Ross Arthur, Philip Sidhu and Angus Boyle.
Currie team: Bryn Perrott; Jack Paterson, Ben Donaldson, Nathan Stewart, Thomas Fleming; Fraser Wright (captain), Cameron Muir; Murray Baxter, Cameron Watson, Nathan James, Gregor Simpson, Cameron Harrison, Josh O’Brien, Finlay Lockhart and Edward Hunt.
Replacements: Sam Greens, Robbie Mackenzie, Joseph Mole, Andrew Watters, Peter Cavens and Gregor Russell.
Referee: Keith Allen
Man of the match: Arron Tait