by Alan Lorimer
BIG GUNS Hawick, Ayr and Stirling County all moved smoothly into the quarter-finals of the Scottish Rugby Youth League Under-18 Cup after achieving comfortable wins in what is quaintly called the preliminary round of the competition at the weekend.
At the Volunteer Park in Hawick, the Greens Under-18s showed their ambition to progress in the competition by overwhelming an Ellon side that found the pace and intensity of their opponents too great to combat.
Hawick’s dynamic play resulted in ten tries, that included a hat-trick from their outstanding stand-off, Bailey Donaldson, and two apiece from wing Charlie Welsh and centre Finnan Gordon-Woolley, to win 62-12.
“The width of the pitch and the fast playing surface [3G] suited us and I think that our fitness was much better,” said the Hawick Youth coach, Rocky Johnstone. “Our aggressive defence was very effective and led to many of our attacking moves.”
For Ellon, who never capitulated, James Hamilton and Fraser Chelok scored tries.
As expected, Ayr had a similarly large points win in their 55-12 victory over Currie Chieftains at Millbrae. Ben Cree scored a brace of tries for Ayr, whose other touchdowns came from Dylan Wilson, Andy Morrison, Craig Doolan Johnny Easton, Scott Clelland and Ross Ward, the remainder of the Ayr points attributable to the boot of Murray Thomson.
Defending champions Stirling County were never seriously challenged in their 64-0 win over Whitecraigs at Bridgehaugh despite a gutsy performance from the visitors.
“This was a good match, against a tenacious Whitecraigs side who never stopped working,” said County’s head coach, Stewart Milne. “We played some very good rugby on the day, in the first half in particular.”
In all, County scored ten tries, two by scrum-half Fraser Craig and single contributions from stand-off Keir Singleton, prop George Ratcliff, hooker Callum Hunter, prop Ben Mace, back-row Louie Kesson, wing Piers Collins, centre Cailean Lindsay and replacement wing Aidan Brooks.
Stirling will now face Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps in the quarter final match at Bridgehaugh on 5th January. “Whilst having to prep for such a big match over the holiday break isn’t ideal, everyone will be putting the hard work in,” insisted Milne.
On the same day, Ayr are away to GHA for their quarter-final while favourites Boroughmuir have drawn Granite City [a partnership of Aberdeen Grammar and Aberdeen Wanderers] at Meggetland. The fourth of the quarter finals will be at the North Inch where Perthshire take on Hawick.
Meanwhile in the under-16 Youth Cup, Biggar continued what has been a successful season for the Lanarkshire club at this age level by defeating Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps 25-19 at The Greenyards in the preliminary round despite trailing at the interval. Biggar’s forward orientated second half effort, however, produced tries for Calum McCallum, Cameron Gray and a second for Calum Smith. For Melrose, Matt Flanigan, Aaron Neil and Ross Taylor crossed for first half tries. Biggar will face Hawick in the quarters on 6th January.