Massive improvement and a moral victory for Borderers

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Edinburgh Under-18s 22

Borders Under-18s 13

UNDER-18 NATIONAL SELECTION FIXTURE

ALAN LORIMER reports from Peffermill

BORDERS rugby has lived with the pain of a massive defeat to Edinburgh 12 months ago at Dunbar – but a year on the district under-18s more than atoned with a competitive performance against the capital side that restored pride in South of Scotland rugby.

The game ended in a 22-13 loss for the Borderers, but what mattered was that it was both a competitive display and a quality performance.

And by both criteria the visitors have every reason to feel proud. The pity is that in the new regime of under-18 rugby there is only the one match in which South can prove themselves when, had the tried and tested system been retained, games against Caledonia and Glasgow would have more than likely produced successful outcomes.

But even with just one match to prove themselves, Borders showed the quality of rugby in the region against an Edinburgh side picked from a much greater rugby population and also drawing from East Lothian.

What’s more, Borders played the more creative rugby and were rewarded with two impressive tries.

The city outfit, however, had power in their pack, and used it to good effect by scoring four tries, all from penalty kicks to the corner and subsequent driven line-outs.

“I think we’ve made a huge step forward,” said Borders under-18 head coach Ross Miller, adding: “What’s especially pleasing is that more than half this team qualify for the under-17 age group.

“The boys have missed a few games because of the weather and perhaps as a result we lost a bit of fitness.

“But the intensity, especially in the first half, was hugely encouraging.”

Borders dominated the early part of the match with a dynamic display from the forwards and good work behind the scrum where Matt Douglas, playing in the pivot position, was influential.

It was the Hawick player’s probing that paved the way for their opening try by Peebles’ centre Scott Halliday after sustained pressure.

Douglas added a penalty goal, but before the break Edinburgh revealed their hand with a try from a driven lineout by Watson’s lock Matt Poole.

Touchdowns after the break from identical positions by Watson’s flanker Ally Miller, with the conversion from Merchiston full back Gavin Parker, and North Berwick prop Reece Paterson gave Edinburgh a 17-8 lead.

Then when replacement Ben Chalmers delivered a beautifully weighted pass to launch a backline move, Borders replied with a try in the corner by Duns winger Ian Sim, only for Edinburgh to have the final say with another driven line-out try for replacement hooker Rory Scott to seal a win for the capital.

Borders: R. Howarth (Galashiels Acad/Gala Wanderers); K. Owen (Peebles HS/Peebles), S. Halliday (Peebles HS/Peebles), R. Taylor (Loretto/Melrose), I. Sim (Duns); M. Douglas (Gosforth/Hawick Wanderers), S. Hutchison (Longridge Towers/Melrose); R. Gibson (Jedburgh GS/Jed Thistle), R. Graham (Hawick HS/Hawick PSA), G. Robertson (Galashiels Academy/Gala Wanderers), A. Runciman (Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps), S. Ainslie (Loretto/Berwick), J. Irvine (Galashiels Acad/Gala Wanderers), R. Harrison (Peebles HS/Peebles), F. Simpson (Hawick HS/Hawick PSA). Subs: C. MacKay (Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps), A. Bailie (Hawick HS/Hawick Wanderers), C. Crookshanks (Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps), G. Law (Jed Thistle), L. Scott (Galashiels Acad/Gala Wanderers), J. Harrison (Peebles HS/Peebles), B. Chalmers (Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps), K. Young (Galashiels Acad/Gala Wanderers).