Favourites Strathallan School claimed their first Scottish Schools Cup with a hugely impressive all-round display and a record points total overpowering a brave Glenalmond College team at BT Murrayfield.
Playing at a pace their near-neighbours couldn’t cope with, the first All-Perthshire final in the competition’s history was always Strathallan’s after a three-try response to conceding a score after barely a minute had been played.
Strath’s power and athleticism in the pack with skipper Murphy Walker and towering lock Cameron Henderson prominent, combined with real speed in the backline brilliantly marshalled by stand-off Ross McCorkindale and man of the match centre Angus Vipond, left Glenalmond living off scraps of possession.
Full-back Ben Morrison, skipper Rafe Houston and big tighthead George Breese did what they could, but Strath always seemed to have an extra gear or off-load when it mattered, despite the constant rain throughout.
“It’s huge for the school,” said captain Walker. “We’d been in four semi-finals before and never quite got through but to get here and win is a some achievement.
“We were given a little fright at the start but we always thought we’d come through if we kept playing as we can.”
Glenealmond director of rugby Graham Smith said that he was proud of his team.
“We knew who were were playing against, they are a quality side. Our only aim was to play better than the last time we played them and we did.
“We tried to play attractive and entertaining rugby and never gave up.”
Underdog Glenalmond stunned the favourites with a brilliant try – the first scored against Strathallan in the cup this season – after just 80 seconds on their first real attack of the game.
From a solid scrum on halfway, captain Houston attacked the line and made a clean break, beating another defender and then throwing a fine miss-pass to the supporting Morrison, who flew in for the opening score.
However the full-back had to drop-kick the conversion as the ball fell off the tee and missed, and Strathallan quickly responded.
As Glenalmond tried to exit their own 22 from the restart, the Strath pack turned the ball over, and there was a neat combination between McCorkindale and Ollie Smith to put Calum McKeown in behind the posts, Vipond adding the simple conversion.
And Strath’s speed and dynamism made further inroads as their big pack began to dominate the ball, massive lock Henderson proving a huge force.
The Glenalmond defence showed some tenacious resistance but first Struan Robertson darted from a ruck for his side’s second try, and within three minutes Finlay Laird just got the ball down at the corner after McKeown again came into the line at pace.
Vipond converted both for a 21-5 lead and Glenalmond needed some time on the ball, a timely interception providing it only for Strathallan to show their strength in defence.
Morrison kicked a penalty as Glenalmond got some reward for their endeavour, but in the final minutes of the half Strath reasserted control with two more tries.
Glenalmond thought they’d stopped a Strath attack forcing a fumble from Smith, but the hack clear ended the advantage and the ball ended in the hands of wing Tom Clark, who weaved his way through tackles for a brilliant solo score.
Just before the break McCorkindale made a smart break, off-loaded to Robertson and although the lock was held short, No 8 Alex Marsh followed up for Strath’s fifth try of the first half.
There was no respite for Glenalmond as the second half began, a set move off lineout ball and McCorkindale’s neat pass to Laird allowing the wing to gallop in from 35 metres for his second try.
Glenalmond got a lift from a couple of fine runs by Morrison, but when Strath got the ball back they were ruthless again, powering through the forwards and then opening up wide, with Vipond slicing through for the seventh try from 25 metres, converting it himself.
The impressive Smith scored a deserved try in the dying minutes to take the score over the half-century.
In the Under-16 final, George Watson’s College were much too strong for Stewart’s Melville, running out 64-19 winners.
Glenalmond College: Ben Morrison; Thomas Roynon Brown, Ben Porter, Will Laird, Miles Kinge; Rafe Houston (capt), Thomas Godfrey-Faussett; Ruairidh Orr Ewing, Finn McCarthy, Goerge Breese; Angis Fitzpatrick, James Houldsworth; Jock Stodart, Cameron Bullard, Tom Porter. Replacements: Wilf Weir, Jamie Morrison, Jack Denton, Henry Marlow, Luarence Kinge, Robert Leader, Will Arnot.
Strathallan School: Calum McKeown; Tom Clark, Ollie Smith, Angus Vipond, Finlay Laird; Ross McCorkindale, Aedan Brennan; Hamish White, Greg Clunas, Murphy Walker (capt); Struan Robertson, Cameron Henderson; Lewis Webster, Alex Marsh, Yanick Sutcliffe. Replacements: Cairn Ramsay, Edward Murray-John, Rory Bayne, Lewis Louden, James McCaig.
Referee: Ian Kenny.