It is fair to say that despite being the defending champions, prior to the match George Watson's College were the underdogs, following a defeat earlier this season by Merchiston Castle School, the team we were up against in the Brewin Dolphin U18 Schools' Cup Final last night. Yet, it was a much-anticipated meeting of the Colinton Road schools, and was always going to be exciting.
Merchiston started the U18 match on the back of a victory on the U16 cup, and we lost a second-row in the warm-up and then a prop early in the first half, yet our boys did not let that faze them, and the character of the team was there for all to see.
The first half was close with a penalty scored by Kerr Stoddart (S6), being followed by a Merchiston try, and so 5–3 to Merchiston at half time.
But it was the second half when our team came alive effectively winning the game with three tries, two of which were scored in a three-minute period shortly after the start of the second half, with Calum Fox (S6) and Robbie Nairn (S6) going over the line for Watson’s. Robbie Nairn went on to score another try, this time converted by Kerr Stoddart. Watson’s were sitting at a 20–5 advantage. This was increased by another Stoddart penalty, which Merchiston reacted to by scoring a second try.
With a minute to go and the score sitting at 23–12, Merchiston scored a try which they converted, but it was too little, too late, and the U18 cup returned to the east end of Colinton Road for the third time in three years with the final score 23–17.
Coach, Ally Donaldson said, “It was a tremendously brave performance. We took a while to regroup after losing a player to injury in the warm up and another after two minutes of the game. The boys should be very proud of their performance and what they have achieved, I'm sure it's a night they will remember for a long time.”
Principal, Melvyn Roffe, who had experienced the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools’ Cup Final atmosphere at Murrayfield for the first time, said, “The Watson's team showed huge courage, skill and style to overcome a talented Merchiston Castle side. They did not allow setbacks caused by early injuries to dent their determination – instead they came alive in the second half and did the Watson's community proud.”
Our captain, Calum Davidson (S6) was presented with the Man of the Match award.