Stewart’s Melville College 0
ALAN LORIMER @ Inverleith
STRATHALLAN secured their place in the semi final of the Scottish Schools under-18 Cup after defeating title holders, Stewart’s-Melville College on Saturday in a match deservedly won by the Perthshire school from a performance of strong ball retention, varied attacking ploys and solid defence.
“We controlled the ball better and particularly in the second half we could get into the areas we wanted to play in,” said the Strathallan coach, Andy Henderson. “Stew-Mel played their part in an exciting game and, like us, wanted to throw the ball around. It was a good spectacle.”
Strathallan, fielding a physically bigger scrum and helped by the considerable presence of their lofty lock Cameron Henderson, used their forwards intelligently in the second half with the likes of flanker Yannick Sutcliffe carrying ball effectively to punch holes in the Stewart’s-Melville defence.
The net result was two match-winning tries in the second half and ultimately a comfortable win for Strathallan. For their part, Stewart’s-Melville threatened at times with clever back moves but their inability to finish midfield breaks proved costly.
“They were bigger up front and had some good ball carriers,” conceded Bryn Lockie, the Stewart’s-Melville coach. “We stuck with it for about 50 minutes and then some of their big ball carriers got a bit of go forward. It was hard for us but I’m proud of the boys. They stuck in for most of the game and that’s all I can ask.”
Strathallan struck after five minutes of play, with a penalty kick to the corner by Angus Vipond and then a driving line-out, yielding a try for second row Struan Robertson. Vipond added the conversion.
The visitors tried a repeat of this move but this time Stewart’s-Melville were able to successfully defend the rolling maul. Just before the break, Strathallan came very close to scoring when stand-off Ross McCorkindale delivered a clever reverse pass to flanker Edward Murray-John, only for the back-row to be tackled in the corner by an alert Stewart’s-Melville defence. Shortly afterwards Strathallan were reduced to 14 men when prop Murphy Walker was sent to the bin for a high tackle.
Their lesser complement, however, did not stop Strathallan from taking control of the game in the second half, putting Stewart’s-Melville under pressure. But the home side worked hard in defence, chopping down Ollie Smith when the district centre seemed certain to score and then clearing their line with an interception by winger Lewis Herd when Strathallan threatened to force their way over the line.
But when Strathallan again kicked a penalty to the corner, scrum half Aedan Brennan used line-out possession to scorch through a gap for his side’s second try converted by Vipond.
Then after Strathallan had patiently gone through the phases the ball was moved left to create a try for Smith, the final score of the match.
In their semi-final Strathallan will play the winners of the quarter-final match at Colinton this coming Saturday between the four times winners George Watson’s College and past Cup holders, Merchiston.
Stewart’s-Melville College: N Moffat; E Moule, N Brown, J Blain, L Herd; F MacNeill, P Ritchie; R O’Hara, E Kelman, F Fraser, C O’Donnell, M Baird, L Gunn, C Boyle, A Robertson Subs A Fraser, D Hay, A Douglas, T Wilson, D Rogerson J Anderson, T Hughes
Strathallan: C McKeown, T Clark, O Smith, A Vipond, F Laird; R McCorkindale, A Brennan; H White, G Clunas, M Walker, C Henderson, S Robertson, E Murray-John, L Webster, Y Sutcliffe Subs C Ramsay, J Masson, R Bayne, L Louden, R Carey
Referee: R Willison (Edinburgh Society)
Stewart’s Melville: No scorers.
Strathallan: Tries: Robertson, Brennan, Smith Cons Vipond 2.
Scoring Sequence (Stewart’s-Melville College first): 0-5, 0-7 (h-t) 0-12, 0-14, 0-19
Yellow cards –
Man-of-the-Match: The Strathallan flanker Yannick Sutcliffe carried ball well for his side.
Talking point: Strathallan have never contested the final of the Schools under-18 Cup. Could this be their year?