Borders & East Lothian U16 complete clean sweep
The Borders & East Lothian U16 completed a clean sweep of Regional Championship wins to take the title on 'home' soil on the main pitch at Netherdale.
A near-full stand were encouraging for both sides from the off, with Borders & East Lothian taking an early lead through winger Finlay Douglas.
Fighting against what appeared to be interminable rain, both teams tried to play attacking, attractive rugby, with the de facto home side continuing to dominate. They scored a second try after Matthew Vitrano burrowed over from close range after patient phase play, Findlay Thomson’s conversion making it 12-0 after only a few minutes.
Lyle Hunter’s interception thrilled Caledonia supporters as they made inroads into the opposition half, but Borders & East Lothian’s defence were on their mettle and they saw to any danger with a series of committed tackles.
A rampant Borders & East Lothian added a third try, and arguably the best of the day, when Finn Douglas scythed through the opposition defence after a beautifully free-flowing backline move that defied such murky conditions.
The aforementioned Hunter got Caledonia on the scoreboard after finishing off a slick move, which Innes Parkin managed to convert to lead the teams into the break with a closer sense of parity, at 17-7.
Half-time: Borders & East Lothian U16 17-7 Caledonia U16
Caledonia started the second period with more vigour than their opponents, although due to the abysmal conditions, the error count began to grow for both sides with a series of knock-ons and fumbles.
Borders & East Lothian further extended their lead with a brilliant try from Finn Douglas, the centre stepping on the gas after popping up to puncture a tiring defence. Replacement Luke Townsend converted to leave the score 24-7.
Caledonia pulled a try back as they refused to go down without a fight, their spirit added to by a fortuitous high tackle call in their favour.
Relentless Caledonia pressure, which lasted for phase after phase and penalty after penalty, ultimately paid off when the referee decided after consultation that they had crossed the line during the maelstrom. The conversion from James Blair meant a five-point deficit as the game reached its denouement.
In a thrilling end, Borders & East Lothian secured victory through Townsend’s close-range finish, which he converted, as full-time brought an end to the most thrilling match of a gripping Regional Finals day.
Full-time: Borders & East Lothian U16 (17) 31-19 (7) Caledonia U16
The Borders & East Lothian: Patrick Cannon (Peebles HS/RFC); Finlay Douglas (Hawick HS/RFC), Finn Douglas (Earlston HS/ Melrose RFC), Mikey Wimbledon-Hall (Dunbar GS/RFC), Finlay Wheelans (Selkirk HS/RFC); Findlay Thomson (Dunbar HS/RFC), Angus Williams (Dunbar GS/RFC); Jack Verrall (Earlston HS/Melrose), Aaron Cameron (Peebles HS/RFC), Lochie Milne (Dunbar HS/RFC), Ben Weir (Earlston HS/Melrose), Elliot Young (Dunbar GS/RFC), Matthew Vitrano (Galashiels Academy/RFC) Scott Brown (Preston Lodge HS/RFC). Replacements: Aiden Sanderson (Kelso HS/RFC), Samuel Currie (Preston Lodge HS/RFC), Andrew Kirk Earlston HS/ Melrose), Aaron Thompson (Ross High School/RFC), Monroe Job (Selkirk HS/RFC) Duncan Smith (Berwickshire HS/ Duns), Luke Townsend (Earltson HS/ Melrose), Justin Tait (Hawick HS/RFC), Luke Henderson (Ross HS/RFC), Sandy Graham (Dunbar HS/RFC).
Caledonia: Stuart Hutchison (Strathallan School); Matthew Joss (High School of Dundee), Lyle Hunter (Dollar Academy), Aminio Bogidrau (Queen Victoria School), Amena Caqusau (Queen Victoria School); Innes Parkin (Huntly), James Imrie (Stirling County); Scott Riach (Huntly), Ollie Smith (Highland), Struan Bowman (Ross Sutherland Rugby), Seamus Gilmartin (Stirling County), Ewan McDonald (Morrison’s Academy), James Brown (Montrose Rugby), Sam Wallace (Dollar Academy), Kian Pitblado (Dunfermline). Replacements: Andrew Cairns (Stirling County), Doug Yellowley (Perthshire Rugby), Adam Elder (Stirling County), Harry Martin (High School of Dundee), Eric Davey (Dundee Rugby/Perth High School), James Blair (Highland), Alexander Thom (Highland), Harris Mitchell (Mackie).