On a bitterly cold evening, the support from the Maroon Brigade and an intensely exciting match kept the Watson's supporters warm.
Our U18 team was hoping to go one better than the three GWC U18 teams which had preceded them into the finals of the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools' Cup in the last 10 years – and they did it!
But not without a nail-biting ending that required the determination to dig deep right up until the final whistle.
Watson’s started the scoring with a penalty from Adam Hastings (S5), which was quickly matched by a penalty by Merchiston full back, Gavin Parker. At 3–3 it stayed until 27 minutes into the match when Ben Robbins (S5) ran away to score. The conversion kick by Hastings went wide only to be followed by a second successful penalty from Parker to mean that GWC went into the half time break 8–6 ahead.
A second try in the third minute of the second half was set up by Chris MacBeth (S6) and finished with a flourish when Robbins scored under the posts, and converted by Hastings. At 15–6, a nine point lead could have signalled the end of the match for any team – but not Merchiston, who dug deep and were rewarded by a try by number 7, Ben Flett and two more penalties from Parker.
For the first time Merchiston was in the lead, and there was just over six minutes remaining on the clock. But with only a few minutes remaining stand-off Hastings found the ball and the corner post neatly aligned and scored a try in the corner to the delight of the Watson’s crowd, who were positioned close by.
He went on to convert the try from the touchline bringing the score to 22–17, where it stayed until the final whistle.
The GWC team could have given up when the lead was lost so late in the game – and the pressure from Merchiston was relentless throughout the game.
Captain Matthew Poole (S6) said following the match: “It means a lot to us to be the first George Watson’s team to lift the under-18s trophy.”
Head of Rugby Ally Donaldson celebrated the win with the following comment: “I am absolutely delighted for the boys. They are really nice kids and deserve the success as they worked really hard for this.”
‘Man of the Match’ went to Merchiston try-scorer and flanker, Ben Flett, as had happened in 2008 when GWC captain, and current Scotland squad player, Stuart McInally (Class of 2008) picked up the award despite losing the cup.
A wonderful night of rugby at Murrayfield and one that will be remembered for a long time by all the GWC supporters who were there to watch this historic win.