Merchiston Castle School entered the record books at BT Murrayfield last night by becoming the first side to win the Scottish Schools under-18 Cup six times, one more than their opponents, St Aloysius College.
The prediction, given their strong fixture list, was a comfortable win for Merchiston and on the night the Colinton school duly delivered, blending powerful forward play with slick backline moves that ultimately overwhelmed St Aloysius.
The losing side can take credit for their defensive skills and ability to gain territory and possession through strong forward play. But against what is a complete Merchiston side it was always going to be a tough night for the Glasgow school.
Merchiston’s whirlwind start brought a rapid result when after a number of prods by the forwards at the St Aloysius line, hooker Douglas Tidy plunged over for the game’s opening try.
Stand-off Alex Fraser, who was deputising for the unavailable Rory Thain, kicked the conversion goal to give his side a seven-point lead with only two minutes played.
If it seemed Merchiston might play a power game through the forwards then that perception soon changed. From a scrum in midfield, Merchiston’s Scotland under-18 scrum-half, Jamie Dobie, made a clean break before putting full-back Rory Stewart-Cox in for a try under the posts, Fraser converting.
The early pressure was ominous for St Aloysius but the Glasgow school responded positively and seemed to have scored when second row Luca Alessandri squeezed in at the corner.
The score was disallowed but the busy lock did not have long to wait for another chance, this time crashing over the line after an efficient maul by St Aloysius gave his side the try they deserved.
Centre Adam Scott converted but thereafter in the first half St Aloysius were unable to get close to the Merchiston line, their main duties being defence.
Merchiston looked eager at the beginning of the second half, their wide game stretching but not breaching the St Aloysius defence. Then, when Merchiston’s Scotland under-18 centre Matthew Currie went round several defenders, a period of possession ended with prop George Kyriazi barrelling over for a try converted by Fraser.
With their tails up Merchiston added another score, slick handling in the backs giving wing Dean Anderson room to power over for a try in the corner. Fraser converted expertly from the touchline to give his side a 26-7 lead.
St Aloysius forced their way back into the game but again man-of-the-match Dobie produced another touch of magic with a searing break before delivering what seemed a scoring pass to his wing.
The St Aloysius scramble defence stopped an immediate score but the offload pass gave replacement Marcus Cornelius an easy stroll to the line, Fraser converting yet again.
With eight minutes of the match remaining Merchiston struck again, the ball worked wide to Anderson for the big winger to run through several missed tackles for his second try. Fraser added the extras for the final points of the match.