Stewart’s Melville College got their hands on the Scottish Schools Cup for the first time in five years as they edged an enthralling match with Dollar Academy which ended in high drama.
A crowd of 5,859 pitched up to BT Murrayfield for the annual finals day and were treated to a magnificent showpiece at its culmination.
Dollar looked to have snatched victory with a late try but were made to pay for their decision to kick out before time was up and Stew-Mel’s prop Rory O’Hara drove over for the winning try.
Earlier, wing Jacob Lineen, the son of Grand Slam hero Sean, had lit up the evening with a stunning hat-trick for the Edinburgh school.
Underdogs Dollar had lost a recent conference match 41-0 to the same opponents but bossed the first ten minutes, which closed with a deserved opening try from blindside Reece McAllister, who sniped over from the base of a ruck.
Full-back Ben McIlwraith notched the conversion but Stewart’s Melville hit back and Lineen had already given notice of his attacking threat with a rapier surge down the left before minutes later he was on the end of a move down the opposite flank to finish off. Skipper Ross Thompson missed the conversion and Dollar edged their lead out to five points when McIlwraith had better luck with a penalty.
It looked like Lineen had got his second score of the evening when he chased down opposite wing Jack Blain’s kick-through but referee David Sutherland ruled in consultation with the touch judge that it was no try.
The pacy, wing-switching menace was not to be denied, however, and was over for his and his team’s second score down the right after a slick passing move.
The conversion slipped by again, though, and Dollar responded by finishing the half on the front foot, eventually breaching the Stew-Mel resistance when speedy lock Jonathan Davies crashed over and McIlwraith bagged the extras for a 17-10 half-time lead.
The Dollar full-back was on the mark again at the start of the second period to keep the scoreboard ticking and adding more pressure to the favourites from the capital.
The wingers remained Stew-Mel’s most dangerous threats and this time it was Blain who got himself on the scoresheet however the wide conversion hit the post and, yet again, Dollar produced an immediate response when their No 14 Charlie Dineen squeezed over in the corner. McIlwraith couldn’t convert and, going into the closing half-hour, there was ten points in it. Not for long, though, as Lineen surged over for his hat-trick and, finally, Thompson managed to bisect the posts with a low puncher which crept over the crossbar and cut the deficit to three.
The ding-dong, end-to-end nature of the game began to close up in the closing ten minutes as the tension ratcheted up but it was the lads from Edinburgh who were looking more likely and, despite some brave Dollar defence, flanker Connor Doyle squirmed over and Thompson converted.
Dollar were not done, though, and launched one ferocious last ditch at glory and Dineen looked to have won it, with McIlwraith’s conversion nudging them a point ahead in the last minute.
Then came the dramatic denouement.