Schools rugby: Watson's maturity hailed after big win over Merchiston; Accies and StewMel pick up wins

George Watson’s College under-18s defeated their Merchiston Castle School counterparts 19-14 at the weekend, with both coaches agreeing that the maturity the former showed in their play was what got them over the line.
Watson's got the better of Merchiston at the weekend. Pic: Gavin MurrayWatson's got the better of Merchiston at the weekend. Pic: Gavin Murray
Watson's got the better of Merchiston at the weekend. Pic: Gavin Murray

The Inspiresport boy’s National One Schools Conference at under-18 level has seen some cracking games being played since it began in early September – and Saturday’s clash at Myreside was up there with the best of them. George Watson’s came out on top 19-14 in the end to put them top of the table with five wins from five, while Merchiston are now third with three wins and two losses to their name. Finn Hall, Matthew Cingel and Fergus Ferguson scored the tries for the victors with Jack Brown kicking two conversions.

“The game was hard fought and there is a real respect between the two groups of players,” George Watson’s coach Mike Ker said. “The match was played in tough conditions which probably didn't suit either team, but I was pleased with our work ethic, heart and desire to apply pressure to Merchiston. I was also delighted with the maturity in our play. We played the conditions well with some excellent kicking and good options in our attack.

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“Credit to Finlay Brown who came to referee, he let the game flow and his communication was excellent with the boys. That makes such a difference for the boys in terms of their learning and understanding moving forward. We now play Fettes on Tuesday and are looking to finish the Conference off strongly before turning our attention very quickly to the [Scottish Schools] Cup. This season is the most competitive I have seen at first XV level in a while and there are a number of teams who could win the Cup on their day.”

Ben Riley and Yeadon Davie scored tries for Merchiston and Isaac Coates converted both. Merchiston coach Roddy Deans said: “It was awesome to see another high quality and competitive schoolboy rugby match. Overall, George Watson’s played a very mature, smart and tactical game and we didn’t adapt well to it. There were some valuable lessons for us to take and go away and work on.”

Edinburgh Academy are second in the table after they defeated seventh placed Fettes College 38-19 and Stewart’s Melville College are fourth after a 42-14 victory over fifth placed Strathallan School. Struan Daly, Hugo Alderson, Dan Burgess, Ben Gammie, Jamie Cain and Freddy Douglas (2) scored the tries for the victors with Cain kicking two conversions and one penalty. Stewart’s Melville coach Hayden Lingard said: “We kept the tempo high, applied pressure without the ball and tried to play in the right areas which lead to us eventually overcoming a physical Strathallan team.”

As Mike Ker mentioned, George Watson’s play Fettes on Tuesday while Edinburgh Academy host Stewart’s Melville on Thursday and then the Conference comes to an end on Saturday when Strathallan take on Merchiston.

Standout results elsewhere at the weekend included Loretto School’s 57-3 under-18 win over Robert Gordon’s College in the Inspiresport boy’s National Two (East) Schools Conference. It means that Loretto have finished with four wins from four in that event while in the reciprocal competition in the west, Kelvinside Academy and The High School of Glasgow played out a thrilling 14-14 draw to end up third and fourth respectively in the table.