After a long wait Merchiston will again be in the final of the Scottish Schools under-18 Cup after overcoming George Watson’s College in a desperately close semi-final at Colinton.
Played in wet and cold conditions, the match came down to fine margins but ultimately what mattered most was the control Merchiston exerted in the final ten minutes.
“We went to a tighter game and used the aerial battle quite well,” said the Merchiston coach, Roddy Deans. “To be fair we got a few lucky bounces and came out on top. This is a talented group of players playing against a talented Watson’s side. We’re proud of our boys.”
Watson’s coach Ally Donaldson said: “At the end of the day there wasn’t much in it. We possibly made more mistakes than them. We maybe sat back a bit too much when we got ahead at 17-10.”
Merchiston almost made the dream start when their full back Rory Stewart-Cox was put in the clear in the opening minute only for Watson’s scrum-half Corin Macdonald to make a try-saving tackle.
But from a driving maul Merchiston struck with a try by prop George Kyriazi, answered quickly by a try in the corner by wing Ewan Evans. The home side again took the lead when wing Dean Anderson powered over for his side’s second try but just before the break Watson’s levelled the scores with a touchdown from back row Ewan Henderson.
Watson’s looked the livelier side at the beginning of the second half and were rewarded with a close range try from second-row Andrew Hoggarth, Angus Hoffie’s conversion giving the Myresiders a 17-10 advantage.
Merchiston responded by deploying a kicking game with valuable contributions from their Scotland under-18 scrum-half Jamie Dobie.
The change of tactics producing a try for Stewart-Cox and then a match winner from back row William Harper, Rory Thain’s conversion sealing victory for the home side.
Merchiston will face Dollar Academy in the final.