Merchiston Castle reign supreme again at Murrayfield – Scottish Rugby Schools' Cup finals round-up

Merchiston Castle retained the Scottish Schools Under-18 Cup after marching to a commanding half-time lead over an Edinburgh Academy side they lost to during the conference section of the season, before withstanding a brave rally from their opponents after the break.

Merchiston Castle celebrate winning the U18 Schools Cup Final against Edinburgh Academy at BT Murrayfield. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)
Merchiston Castle celebrate winning the U18 Schools Cup Final against Edinburgh Academy at BT Murrayfield. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

“We are absolutely delighted to win back-to-back titles,” said victorious coach coach Roddie Deans. “The boys have worked incredibly hard for the last two years and they should be very happy to have played for a second time at Murrayfield and score some lovely tries.”

Merchiston dominated possession during the opening salvos, controlled territory well and were unlucky to be held up over the line after an excellent Ben Riley break. The Colinton side were not to be denied for long, though, and a quick breakdown penalty put Callum Brown in for the opening score.

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Co-captain and player-of-the-match Isaac Coates converted, and Merchiston kept their foot on the gas to nab their second try through Riley, who had popped up numerous times in the build-up before finishing off the move.

U18 Schools Cup Final: The Edinburgh Academy v Merchiston Castle School at BT Murrayfield. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

Merchiston almost ran one in from the length of the field, with Riley getting on the end of a Coates’ kick ahead, and although Accies managed to get back just in time to snuff out that attack, they could not clear the danger and, a few phases later, Lorne Wright dived over spectacularly in the corner. Coates made it two conversions from three attempts.

Accies had their best attack of the half when captain Charlie Lamond burst through, but he couldn’t quite make the line, so his team went in at half-time 19 points adrift.

But they battled back into the contest after the break, with the back-row trio James Playfair, Toby Edwin and Oliver Duncan working hard to get their side on the front foot, before replacement Angus Larkin burst through a gap and rounded the last man to score under the posts, for a try which was converted by stand-off Will Hodgson. However, that was as close as they got.

“Merchiston are a very good side and I think they experience at this level was the real difference as our boys appeared to struggle with the occasion and found opportunities hard to take,” reflected Accies head coach Chris Martin.

U18 Plate Final: Heriot’s School v Marr College at BT Murrayfield. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

In the Under-16s Cup, Stewart’s Melville College marched to a 43-24 win for over Strathallan School, with a brace of tries scored by second-row Oli Anderson in a fiercely contested first half. Fly-half Howie Offord was the pick of the bunch for the victorious team, marshalling his back line to great effect. Stewart’s Melville’s other tries were scored by Callum Jessop, Taylor Gray and Adam Munro.

Strathallan remained in the fight to the end, scoring four tries of their own, but were hamstrung by two yellow cards which reduced them to fourteen at crucial moments.

In the other games, Howe of Fife/Bell-Baxter drew 14-14 with North Berwick in the U16s Shield Final, Loretto pipped Linlithgow at the whistle 15-13 in the U16s Plate Final, and Berwick prevailed 60-22 over a spirited Knox/Haddington team in the U16s Bowl Final.

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The U18s Shield Final finished 30-22 in favour of St Aloysius College over The High School of Glasgow, the U18s Plate Final ended 27-17 to George Heriots despite a spirited second-half fightback from Marr College, and the U18s Bowl Final saw Morrisons Academy defeat Lomond and Helensburgh 41-7.

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