Jed Thistle took a major step towards the successful defence of their National Youth Cup title with a convincing 31-5 victory over former winners Stirling County last Saturday.
Thistle, who lead the Borders semi-junior league, showed dynamic form against Stirling to book their place in the semi-final of the under-18 competition.
The experience of their backs, most of whom played in last season’s final against Ayr, proved vital in the Jed win.
“We’re a different team from last year, although we’ve got virtually the same set of backs,” said Thistle coach Callum Brown, adding: “It’s a much faster game we’re playing.”
The Jed youngsters made sure of victory with a strong burst just before half-time and then complemented this with strong defence as Stirling tried to hit back. Outside centre Rory Marshall bagged two tries for Thistle and there was one apiece from livewire scrum half Gary Munro, wing Calum Young and flanker Aidan Walker, three of the scores converted by centre Robbie Yourston.
Jed will now have a home semi-final on Saturday, January 31, against the winners of the postponed tie between Ayr and Boroughmuir, now rescheduled for this coming Saturday.
Thistle are joined in the semi-finals by fellow Borderers Hawick Wanderers, who fended off a late challenge by Currie Colts to record a 29-26 success on the 3G pitch at Murrayfield.
Wanderers were 24-0 ahead at one stage in the second half with tries from no. 8 Dalton Redpath (2), hooker Jack Watson and prop Fraser Renwick. But Currie staged a fightback with touchdowns from Edinburgh under-18 representative Luke Crosbie, scrum half Cameron Jones and prop Sam Greens.
However, a fifth try for Hawick by wing Logan Gordon-Wooley proved decisive.
“We played extremely well in the first half,” said Wanderers coach Graham Renwick.
“Currie came at us in the first 10 minutes, but we defended strongly and then produced a great 20 minutes of attacking rugby to go 19-0 up at half-time.
“We picked up a few injuries in the second half and, against a very physical Currie side, we had to defend bravely.”
The Hawick side will also have a home semi-final – against the winners of the postponed tie between Highland and West of Scotland.
In the National Under-18 Bowl quarter-finals, Melrose Wasps defeated Biggar 43-8 with tries from Robin Sharp, Callum Love, Josh Raggio, Craig Pringle, James Montgomery, Robbie Chalmers and a penalty try, with Chalmers kicking four conversions. Elsewhere this weekend, Peebles Colts are away to Allan Glens on Saturday in their rescheduled Under-18 Bowl quarter-final tie, while also on hold are Hawick Albion and Melrose, who play rearranged Under-16 Cup quarters on Sunday – Albion at home to Ellon and Wasps away to Stirling County.
Also rescheduled are the Under-16 Bowl ties Peebles Colts v Highland and Dundee Eagles v Gala Red Triangle.