Strathallan celebrated their first-ever appearance in the Scottish Schools Under-18 Cup final by winning the title with a sumptuous victory over their Perthshire neighbours Glenalmond on the international pitch at BT Murrrayfield last night to confirm their status as competition favourites.
Having used forward power to bludgeon their way through the quarter and semi-final rounds against Stewart’s Melville College and George Watson’s College, Strathallan showed a different side to their rugby by playing a high-tempo handling game that allowed their fast backs to score freely.
Outstanding for Strathallan were wings Tom Clark and Finlay Laird, centre Angus Vipond, who was voted man of the match, and in the pack back rows Alex Marsh and Yannick Sutcliffe and second row Cameron Henderson.
For Glenalmond, who play in the second tier conference, it was a tough night in a constant defensive role. But they did have a number of attacking probes, notably from stand-off Rafe Houston and full-back Ben Morrison.
The Glenalmond pair combined excellently in the opening minutes with Houston cutting through the middle before throwing out a long pass to Morrison for a sensational opening score.
The reply by Strathallan however was instant, a series of quick passing ending with full-back Calum McKeown racing over and Vipond converting. Then, after a series of close-range attacks, second row Struan Robertson surged over, Vipond again adding the extras.
Strathallan’s try-scoring machine was now at full tempo, confirmed when Strath worked a move from a set scrum that gave left wing Laird a try in the right-hand corner. Vipond was faced with a difficult conversion but the centre was nerveless and goaled from the touchline.
Glenalmond briefly hit back with a penalty by Morrison but again Strathallan promptly reasserted themselves with a try by winger Clark and then a close-range effort by Marsh converted by Vipond to send Strath into the break with a comfortable 33-8 lead.
The second half had barely resumed when Laird came through midfield to score his side’s sixth try, Vipond again making it a seven pointer. Vipond then bagged his first try as the centre skimmed through for a score under the posts giving himself an easy conversion. Thereafter Strathallan, having made a number of changes, were less fluent but they did achieve one further breakthrough when Ollie Smith touched down for the final points of the game.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic for the boys. They’ve put so much hard work into their game this season and so this is a great way to finish. Lots of these guys have come through the school together,” said the Strathallan coach, Andy Henderson. “We perhaps didn’t have our best game tonight but it was enough to win. The [wet] conditions dictated the way we played.”