Stirling County U-16s 39, Stewartry U-16s 21
Stewartry arrived with a good squad in preparation for this game.
For many, it was the biggest game they had ever played and all were eager to get involved in the action from early on.
Stewartry kicked off and Hugh Carson immediately put pressure on the receiver with a great tackle. It was the start Stewartry had hoped for as they applied pressure.
Stirling were the first team to cross the try line after about five minutes and they seemed to have shocked the Stewartry lads with the unconverted score.
Straight from the restart Stirling looked to keep building, their stand-off giving the Stewartry fullback plenty to deal with. As the pressure kept piling on eventually something had to give and Stewartry conceded a penalty in their 22. Stirling kicked the points to lead 8-0.
Again a strong chase from the restart by the Stewartry pack put the pressure on the opposition. Stirling’s confidence was growing and was boosted when the ref missed an attacker in an offside position as their stand-off chipped the ball into the try area for a try they converted.
Stewartry settled into their own game, Ryan Underwood and Adam Hutchison dominating in the lineout and this seemed to lift the rest of the team. As the forwards charged down field with a series of rucks, quick ball from scrum-half Lewis Young saw Stafford McDowell crash over between the posts for a great try which he converted himself.
Stirling replied straight away, scoring within a matter of minutes and believed they had this game sewn up but Stewartry have other ideas.
From a move that started in their own 22, Stewartry played some great offloading rugby with most of the team touching the ball on its way up the pitch before Ryan Underwood scored, Stafford McDowell added the conversion for a 22-14 half-time score.
The second half started with Stewartry applying pressure, but a loose ball hacked through allowed Stirling to stretch their lead again to 27-14.
Play continued for most of the second half with both teams matching each other in this arm-wrestle of a game. A Stewarty penalty with 10 minutes to go was kicked into the corner, the lineout was secured and ball spun out fast to Stafford McDowell to crash over again, his 29th try of the season, which he converted to make the score 27-21.
The final eight minutes proved to be vital and as a clear knock-on was missed by the ref and Stirling reacted quickly, it spelled game over for Stewartry and they conceded another late score from a five-meter scrum.
This was a very brave performance from a young team who have shown that they can compete at national level as well as regional, where they are top of the league.
Man of the match was Stafford McDowell.
By Andrew Chadwick