So close for West of Scotland U18s at Murrayfield

The valiant West of Scotland U18s (picture by John Cameron)The valiant West of Scotland U18s (picture by John Cameron)
The valiant West of Scotland U18s (picture by John Cameron)
Boroughmuir U18s 31, West of Scotland U18s 24

West of Scotland’s Under-18s rugby squad came within seconds of causing a huge upset in the final of the National Youth Under-18 Cup on Sunday against heavy favourites Boroughmuir at

With the scores level at 24-24, the trophy would have been shared, reports Neil Stobie.

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Neither side deserved to lose – both deserved to win. It was a magnificent match, with the honours won and lost right at the death.

Boroughmuir had got off to the perfect start with try by flanker Liam McConnell, converted by scrum half Greg Anderson, whose penalty made it 10-0 after only five minutes.

West had started nervously but, after a tap penalty on the Boroughmuir 22, Patrick Spence’s perfectly-timed intrusion saw him reduce the deficit.

Charlie Greaves’ conversion narrowed the gap to three points.

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Centre Nick Adler was in support of hooker Jerry Blyth-Lafferty’s break from halfway to score Boroughmuir’s second try, again converted by Anderson.

At the mid-point of the half, the Edinburgh side deserved their lead, with the forwards providing plenty of good ball for their backs. West were having to defend well – and they did.

Their tremendous work was rewarded when, after repeated drives following a tap penalty close to their opponents’ line, skipper Kerr Yule scored.

Greaves was again successful with the conversion. From the kick-off, West almost took the lead when a kick ahead crossed the Boroughmuir line. The one Boroughmuir defender got to the ball just before the two chasing West players.

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Greaves’ simple penalty from in front of the posts brought the sides level at 17-17. It had been a breathtaking first half.

The second half supplied wonderful entertainment. Both sides looked to attack and both defences held firm.

With just over 10 minutes left, Boroughmuir regained the lead. With West attacking their line, they turned the ball over and broke left.

With numbers over, Ozzy Canakaivata scored in the left corner and Anderson made light of the difficult conversion.

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West then seemed to find another gear. The forwards drove, the backs attacked. Boroughmuir were forced into desperate defence as West set up phase after phase on their opponents’ line.

Eventually, the dam was breached as Yule dived over a pile of bodies and his colleagues celebrated. The referee consulted his assistant before awarding the try and Greaves levelled the score at 24-24.

And so to the final five minutes. The scores were level, the try count was level, the same number of goals had been kicked.

No cards had been issued in a match played in an excellent spirit. It seemed the silverware would be shared.

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Boroughmuir were awarded a penalty. It looked kickable for a man who had looked sure from the tee all game but Anderson’s skipper indicated a kick to touch.

Boroughmuir had had the advantage at the line-out throughout. They caught the ball and drove and drove, but the West defence held firm and cleared.

A scrum was awarded to Boroughmuir on the West 10 metres line and the clock went to red.

From the scrum, McConnell collected. Showing remarkable pace after such a physically demanding match, he found a gap in the defence and powered through under the posts.

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His teammates danced with him, the West men slumped to their knees.

It had been a superb game of game of rugby. Every player, coach and official had given his all.

It was a wonderful advert for youth rugby in Scotland and almost the perfect end to head of rugby development Millan Browne’s time at West of Scotland. He has left a superb legacy.

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