Dollar Academy 19
Stewart’s-Melville Coll 13
DOLLAR made history last night by staging their own smash-and-grab act at Murrayfield to win the Bell Lawrie White Scottish Schools Cup for the first time in front of a record final crowd.
It was a supremely dogged effort as Dollar were forced to weather lengthy periods in defence in a pulsating affair. But their more clinical finishing ensured they needed little possession to ruin Stewart’s-Melville hopes of a second title.
The Edinburgh school started brightly and after a neat drop-goal by Graeme Blackhall opened the scoring in the fourth minute, full-back Nicholas Preston stepped up the excitement with a scintillating break through the Dollar back-line.
Fine ball retention saw the move end with a lineout five metres from the Dollar line, but a second successive steal by Dollar No8 Ed Butcher and then a great tackle on wing Ross Finlayson by Jonathan Alston kept the Dollar line intact.
Dollar then produced a lightning response and though it required two attacks, they scored the game’s first try with a well-taken team effort in the 14th minute.
Brothers Craig and Stuart Hazlett, playing at centre, full-back Michael Cooper and stand-off Campbell Paterson were key figures in a sweeping attack, and Dollar, opting for the scrum from a penalty, pushed the Edinburgh side back over the line for blindside John Barclay to touch down.
Scrum-half Graham Wilson converted, erasing the memory of a first-minute penalty miss, and he followed up with a near 40-metres effort after 20 minutes.
The Colleges returned to the attack, but despite some clever running and terrific effort, notably from their silky No8 Phil Hendry and centre David Warwick, they could find no way through or around a well-drilled Dollar defence, a feature of their season.
However, Dollar provided another clinical touch with the last act of the half when a quick attack yielded another penalty and Wilson struck it superbly between the uprights from over 40 metres out.
Colleges brought the game to life ten minutes into the second half when they finally added a finish to the promising build-up work. The ball was moved swiftly from a scrum on the left and Jed Gordon took a fine straight line to the posts from 15 metres out, leaving Blackhall with an easy conversion.
Wilson and Blackhall lifted their own supports with another penalty each and the decibel level continued to rise as Stew/Mel forced more pressure in the Dollar 22.
The lack of a finish returned to haunt the capital schoolboys, however, fine breaks coming to naught as players failed to use support or struggled to retain composure when needing to hold onto possession within striking distance of the try-line.
A fine turnover by the Dollar prop and sponsors’ man-of-the-match Ben Fulton, merely added to their frustration. With seven minutes remaining, Dollar mounted a rare attack and, as was the case in the first half, came away with points.
Preston denied them a try, when the full-back’s tackle ended a terrific run by Cooper, but a penalty award allowed the accurate Wilson to restore the six-point lead with a fine kick against a wall of noise from the passionate Colleges’ big support.
It was the perfect time to strike as the score revived Dollar just when they needed it most.
Scorers: Dollar Academy: Try: Barclay. Pens: Wilson 4. Cons: Wilson. Stewart’s-Melville: Try: Gordon. Pens: Blackhall 2. Con: Blackhall.
Dollar Academy: M Cooper; J Alston, S Hazlett, C Hazlett, E George; C Paterson, G Wilson; B Fulton, P Sutherland capt, R Hogg, E Peebles, A Gilmartin, J Barclay, E Butcher, R Allan. Subs: A McLaren for Hogg, R Cullens for Paterson, both 35, J Barber-Fleming for Gilmartin 45.
Stewart’s Melville: N Preston; J Brock, J Gordon, D Warwick, R Finlayson; G Blackhall, J Hood; A Davidson capt, D Gowans, S Gibb, A Clarke, S Riddell, D Calder, P Hendry, R Grady. Subs: D Maxwell for Gibb 35.
Referee: M Hall (Boroughmuir).