Battle-hardened Watson’s retain U-18 title

George Watson's College U-18s celebrate their victory at Murrayfield. The victorious Under-16s also won, pictured below. Pictures: SNS
George Watson's College U-18s celebrate their victory at Murrayfield. The victorious Under-16s also won, pictured below. Pictures: SNS
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GEORGE WATSON’S rugby captain Ally Miller praised his under-18 side’s battling qualities after they won the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Cup at Murrayfield last night.

Having built up a 24-3 lead over the High School of Dundee just after half-time, there looked to be little doubt that the Capital school would retain the trophy they won 12 months ago by beating Merchiston Castle.

However, the Taysiders scored two tries in as many minutes to give themselves a lifeline and in the end it took a converted try from full back Jamie Cousin with four minutes remaining to seal victory 31-17.

It added to the College’s under-16 final victory to make it a double celebration last night, as well as a fitting tribute to George Watson’s director of sport Iain Brown, who passed away two months ago.

In the wider scale of things, the under-18 side became the first to retain the trophy since Dollar Academy in 2005, while Miller and six of his team-mates completed a superb treble.

Miller, Ben Robbins, Dugald Berezford, Jake Kerr, Eddie Irvine, Fraser McMillan and Cameron McMillan have all now been a part of a winning team three seasons in a row at the national stadium.

In 2011/12 they lifted the under-16 trophy and for the last two years have been involved at under-18 level. On last night’s showing, No. 8 Miller said: “I thought we played pretty well and I was especially pleased with the spirit the guys showed when the High School of Dundee started to come back at us.

“At that stage we had to focus on what we were doing and stick to our game plan and thankfully we got the clinching try with a few moments to go.

“For me personally it is really great to have won at Murrayfield three times and it is something I will always look back on fondly. In terms of this season I have loved captaining this group of boys and we have all been working really hard.”

Ally Donaldson, along with fellow coach Andy Barnett, has now led the school to the two under-18 triumphs on the trot.

He said: “They are a great bunch to work with and they and the under-16s have done the school proud. It has also been a tough time at the school with Iain’s passing, but I know if he had been here he would have been a very proud man.”

Flying winger Robbins had scored two tries in last year’s final and he started this one in the same form, running in an early try from quite some distance out.

After nine minutes fellow winger Robbie Nairn showed his promise by adding a second try before the High School of Dundee got into the match through a penalty by centre Duncan Leese.

George Watson’s extended their lead to 17-3 two minutes before the interval when a try was scored and converted by stand-off Callum Young.

When the same man darted over two minutes after the break to make it 24-3, it was all one-way traffic, led by the terrific George Watson’s pack.

Dundee then proceeded to fight back until Cousin had the final word, which came after a lengthy injury break to the Taysiders’ No. 8 Brewster White.

Kerr was named as man of the match.

George Watson’s College: J Cousin; R Nairn, H Ferguson, R Kerr, B Robbins; C Young, F McMillan; E Irvine, J Kerr, D Berezford, P Halliday, A Coull, Calum Davidson, A Miller, Connor Davidson. Subs: J Urquhart, G Rostron, C Chalmers, R Lind, C Davies, K Stoddart, C McMillan.

High School of Dundee: J Clarkson; S Lothian, E Fox, D Leese, R Joy; M MacLeod, H Sampson; A Powrie, A Milne, A Hussain, C Sinclair, J Mather, O Davidson, B White, C Jollands. Subs: P Kidd, C Bennett, A Ashworth, C McCrimmon, C Archibald, C Hedigan, R Paterson.