Stewart's Melville lift U18 Schools Cup
Sustained early territory and possession, as well as patience, brought about the opening score, as Stewart’s Melville second row Dominic Gray burrowed over after several phases of forward play.
The game was not short on defensive quality from the off, with Stewart’s Melville lock Aaron Robertson rampaging his way into the opposition 22 only to be reined in by some stellar George Watson’s defence.
It was Stewart’s Melville who repelled next, prop Kaysan Davidson hitting big in the midfield and forcing a penalty which would ultimately lead to their next try.
From a rolling maul, hooker and captain Duncan Hood crashed over with the help of his pack.
George Watson’s went so close to hitting back immediately, camping out on the try line and waiting for an opportunity, but a knock-on relieved the pressure and Stewart’s Melville could regroup.
They went again and again, and still could not breach a most stubborn defensive line until inside centre Euan Maguire forced his way over just when it looked like the implausible task. Stand-off Rory Stephen converted to make it a three-point game with ten minutes left until the interval.
With half-time looming, Stewart’s Melville prop Mikey Jones found the freedom of BT Murrayfield and was clean through only to be stopped when an overlap had presented itself.
Stewart’s Melville did manage to cross the whitewash before the break, though, as inside centre Matt Russell careered onto a pass from a short distance out for the easiest of tries, which he duly converted.
George Watson’s again went close to replaying from sustained pressure, but the ball was held up and a breathless first half drew to a close
HALF-TIME Stewart’s Melville College 17-7 George Watson’s College
The opening score of the second half was as important as ever, and again George Watson’s went direct, hammering away and eventually scoring through prop Conor Myles, given after consultation with the TMO and converted by Maguire.
As the intensity grew, so too mistakes crept in on either side given the high stakes of Scotland’s showpiece schools’ final.
Stewart’s Melville were next to take a wander into opposition territory, opting to kick for touch from a penalty and building through the phases as George Watson’s had done so well previously.
It proved a fruitless task as they knocked on when well placed, allowing Watson’s a scrum to gather themselves once more.
With 17 minutes left on the clock, Stewart’s Melville won a line-out off their own throw from close range, allowing prop Kaysan Davidson to hurl over – Russell added an excellent conversion to make it 24-14.
As was the pattern of this game, back came George Watson’s, forcing a penalty for not rolling away. They gained a line-out from which their rolling maul may well have reaped a try were it not for a knock on.
Stewart’s Melville managed to nullify any remaining George Watson’s attempts to haul themselves within touching distance, defending their ten-point gap until the last, the full-time whistle sparking joyous scenes.
Stewart's Melville Head Coach Stuart Edwards said, "Our captain today really set the standard with his hit straight from kick off, but we made it hard for ourselves, first half was outstanding, second not so much. In terms of our attitude, defence and desire I couldn't be any prouder of these boys, they're the best set of kids I've ever worked with, outstanding."
FULL-TIME Stewart’s Melville College 24-14 George Watson’s College
Player of the Match: Mikey Jones (Stewart’s Melville)
Stewart’s Melville College: Jamie Thompson; Bruce McNulty, Aidan Boyle, Matthew Russell, Aidan Cross; Christian Townsend, Finlay Campbell; Mikey Jones, Duncan Hood (captain), Kaysan Davidson, Aaron Robertson, Dominic Gray, James Mather, Lachlan McGregor, Robert Gordon.
Replacements: Theo Marcus, Craig Affleck, Matt Robertson, Ruairidh Chisholm, Jamie Burns, Dan King, Archie Morris.
George Watson’s College: Daniel Brown; Connall Milligan, Angus Cousin, Euan Maguire, Ryan Daly; Rory Stephen, Brodie Young; Conor Myles, Michael Cantle, Gregor Scougall, Max Raitt, Archie Watters, Chris Hardie, Tom Holmes, Ewan Henderson (captain).
Replacements: Braydon Lynes, Jamie Ryan, Ben Gale, Luca Muscat, Chris Scullion, Alex Hastings, Zack Neill.