Earlston High School and Peebles High School will meet in the regional final of the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools under-18 Plate at Netherdale next Wednesday in what is already being referred to as the battle of the Changlengs.
Twins Malcolm and David, both top class referees, will for once be on opposite sides as they lead their respective sides in pursuit of the regional title and progression to the quarter final of the national competition.
Earlston, coached by the school’s faculty head of sport, Malcolm Changleng will start as favourites having comfortably defeated North Berwick High School in the regional quarter final and then Hawick High School in the penultimate round of the East Lothian/Borders section.
At Mansfield Park Earlston were much too strong for an understrength Hawick High School side as they strode to a 48-8 win. Early tries by number 8 Ruairi Campbell , centre Archie Kidd and prop James Ross, all converted by stand-off Robbie Chalmers put Earlston on the front foot and before half time centre Thomas Klein extended the lead with his side’s fourth try.
Just before the break scrum half Ronan Alexander scored for Hawick, stand-off Kyle Brunton adding the conversion. After the break Earlston returned to scoring mode with tries by Campbell, lock Ross McConnell and Klein, Chalmers converting twice in addition to kicking a penalty goal.
“I think we lacked a bit of confidence because there were several key players missing” suggested Scott Renwick, coach of Hawick High School. He added : “We gave them too big a start but having said that, Earlston played good rugby. They were adventurous and were prepared to have a go. We played too limited a game”.
Missing from Hawick’s side were district players Daniel Suddon, Robbie McLean, Sean Chapman and Jack Scott but in defeat there were good performances from hooker Fraser Renwick and back row Dai Swailes.
Earlston will look to exploit the talents of their backline in which Robbie Chalmers is shaping up to be a good performer at stand-off alongside centres Thomas Klein and Euan Runciman.
For their part Peebles High School, coached by David Changleng, came through the quarter finals with a 43-12 win over Musselburgh Grammar School before achieving an away win by 31-12 against Preston Lodge High School.