Merchiston Castle’s under-16 coach Freddie Main paid tribute to his side’s team spirit after they battled back from 19-7 down to win the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Cup with the last play of the match last night.
In the first half against Dollar Academy at BT Murrayfield the Edinburgh school were up against it and were trailing by 12 points.
However, whatever Main and captain Charlie Yuille said to the players at half-time seemed to work as by the 59th minute they had edged ahead 20-19.
Dollar then grabbed another try, but this Merchiston side were not going to be beaten and, after a number of phases of play, winger Mackenzie Cox was the match winner with a try on the final whistle as they won 25-24.
The school last won the event two seasons ago and on the latest victory Main said: “I am just so happy for the boys because they just kept working and working for each other and in the end it paid off.
“Fair play to Dollar, they came out and played some good rugby in the first half, but I thought the way our boys responded showed great character.
“When we lost the try to go 24-20 down other teams may have struggled to come back from it, but not this one. They didn’t panic, kept their nerve and got their reward in the end.”
Captain Yuille, who tackled like a demon in the back-row, added: “It was one of the best games I have ever been involved in because both teams really wanted to play rugby.
“We were all knackered at the end, but to come back and win like that makes me really proud.”
As well as Cox, Merchiston scored tries through Hamish Scanlan and Tyler Thomas. Ronan Dowds kicked the rest of the points and Ben Vessey was named man of the match.
Dollar Academy under-16s: Tries: Hughes 2, Cooke 2. Cons: Hughes 2.
Merchiston Castle under-16s: Tries: Scanlan, Thomas, Cox. Pens: Dowds 2. Cons: Dowds 2.
Dollar Academy under-16s: C Dineen; S Smith, F Fitzpatrick, A Citro, R Cooke; G Hughes, R McNicol; A Cooper, N Reeves, C Soutar, C Blakemore, J Skipper, L Peterson, C Cruikshank, G McGregor. Subs: S McLaren, A Parker, J Davies, J Price, M Cuthbertson, C Moore, H Neil.
Merchiston Castle under-16s: H Clarkson; M Cox, J Eagers, H Scanlan, B Vessey, R Dowds, R Greenshields; D Bubnov, J Diggle, F Richardson, A Bisset, M Grant, C Yuille, T Thomas, O Knox. Subs: C McKay, G Sharp, H Fisher, J Henderson, R McLean, C Moore, L Birrell.
Referee: D Sutherland.