Landmark semi-final place cheers Merchiston

MERCHISTON created a piece of history at the weekend by becoming the first Scottish school to reach the semi-finals of the prestigious National Sevens tournament at Rosslyn Park's ground in Roehampton that attracted an entry of 105 sides, among them Sedbergh, Llandovery, Whitgift, Coleg Sir Gar and Millfield.

After heading their group with wins over Exeter (12-10), Monmouth (29-7), Dartford GS (21-14) and Robert Clack 47-5, Merchiston went into the knock-out stage, securing a quarter-final place with a 29-12 victory over Wimbledon College and then reaching the last four with an impressive 15-5 win over the highly rated Welsh school, Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf.

Then in the semi-final Merchiston faced Filton College from Bristol, the feeder school for Bristol Rugby Club, whose physical strength took them to a 29-5 win. Merchiston coach, James Boyd, while disappointed at going out in the semi-final stage, believes the experience of playing in a top class tournament is invaluable.

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He said: "The opportunity to play other schools outside of our normal fixture list is vitally important if we are to develop as rugby players. All of the players will have benefited from participating in this competition. To reach the semi-final was an excellent achievement but the challenge as a coach is to take the side one step further next year."

In domestic sevens, George Watson's College won their own tournament at Myreside last week with an impressive performance that produced tries for Ally Middleton, Jack Ferguson, and Scott McKean (3) in the final to deny Edinburgh Academy.

Meanwhile, in two of the three Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools competitions yet to be resolved, Linlithgow Academy have the chance to claim double honours with appearances in the Under-18 Plate and Under-15 Bowl finals.

In the Under-18 Plate, Linlithgow, who as a composite side have several players from Braes High School and Graham High School in their team, reached the final with an impressive 10-7 win over past winners Royal High School, with tries from flanker Calum Stevenson and winger Ross Plenderleith.

Coach Jon Blundell thinks that his side's two match tour to Cornwall during the Easter holidays will help in preparations for the Plate final against Wellington School at Murrayfield on 21 April. "We will be playing strong teams from Camborne and Truro," said Blundell. "We've done wel l in the Cup and Plate this season considering we've had only one game at home," added the Linlithgow Academy coach.

The other chance for a Linlithgow success is in the Under-15 Bowl final against Earlston High School scheduled to go ahead at Murrayfield tomorrow.

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