Barclay symbolises strength of Dollar

Dollar Academy 27

Dundee High School 14

DOLLAR Academy held off a late fightback to secure their second successive Bell Lawrie White Scottish Schools Cup in the first-ever all-Midlands final at Murrayfield last night.

In virtually wrapping up the title in the first half, Dollar’s pack of forwards proved too strong and their backs held the aces in the strength and skill departments to rattle up a commanding 17-0 half-time lead. However, Dundee High began to find a rhythm in the second half with a committed display which saw them finish the second period 14-10 winners. It was not enough to deny Dollar, but certainly ensured a rousing and entertaining game for the record 5,483 crowd.

With their captain Graham Wilson providing a fine lead, Dollar opened the scoring in the 11th minute. Wilson had failed with a drop-goal attempt, but the holders and favourites were swiftly back on the front foot and after right wing Scott Borrowman was stopped short a minute later, their inspirational openside flanker John Barclay - only cleared to play after passing a late fitness test - drove over the line, Wilson converting. Barclay, an outstanding prospect who has already represented Scotland at sevens level, also picked up the Man of the Match award, voted on by a group of Scotland internationalists.

It was a remarkable turn-around for the player, who stunned supporters by lining up at the kick-off. He believed he had been ruled out of rugby for nine months after a build-up of injuries to his pelvic area, but it was stated last night that further tests revealed it was not as serious as first believed and he was cleared to play.

Dundee worked tirelessly to find a way into the Dollar half but when enterprising attacking took them there, with fly-half Colin Goudie and centres John Walton and Peter Saunders invariably at its centre, they met a cool customer in Jonathan Alston, the Dollar full-back.

Once down the other end, the impressive Dollar team proved they knew how to finish opportunities. With 20 minutes gone, a lineout was driven to the line and hooker Mark Nelson picked up at the base and dived over, Wilson converting superbly from the left touchline. Wilson then slotted a penalty, but it was testament to the skill and effort of the Dundee defence that there was no more scoring in the remainder of the half.

There were only six minutes played in the second when Wilson knocked over another penalty from close range, but Dundee’s spirit rose and, rucking tightly and supporting the ball-carrier well, they began to make inroads into the Dollar half. They bravely opted to kick penalties around the 22 to touch, rather than going for easy points and earned their reward with a superbly-worked try.

The ball was taken in and driven by the pack, the final push giving flanker Richard Vernon, the space to dive over. A conversion from Goudie stirred the Dundonian support. It was to be a brief bit of excitement as Dollar responded with a third try, two minutes later, from Borrowman which Wilson converted from the touchline.

Dundee were not yet finished, and another driven lineout brought success with nine minutes left. Jamie Bell, their impressive lock, this time got the touchdown and Goudie again converted to finish the scoring. The standing ovation both teams received at the final whistle was richly deserved.