A BATTLING performance saw Lomond Helensburgh under-18s earn a place in the final of the Schools National Bowl at the weekend, following a 36-29 victory over Preston Lodge Academy under-18s.

The match took place on Saturday, November 26, and saw Lomond Helensburgh travel to Prestonpans for the evenly matched tie.

After the opening exchanges Preston Lodge scored first and on the back of some basic errors, went on to score three more tries in the first half. That gave the home team a 24-point lead.

However, a full and frank team talk under the posts galvanised the under-18s and they went right up the pitch and grabbed their first try of the match.

The conversion was good from Devenny and the half-time score was Preston Lodge 24 Lomond Helensburgh 7.

In rugby, momentum can often swing and in this match the under-18s rode the wave into the second half. Giarchi grabbed the first score of the half driving over the line from short range; again the conversion was good from Devenny.

Next Devenny got another score from quick, dynamic play which he converted to grab all seven points.

The under-18s had the home team rattled and Dunlop flew over the line after a period of pressure. The conversion was missed by Devenny, but the under-18s now had a lead 24-26.

The final period of play was as tight as they come. Preston Lodge scored out wide to take the lead again, but missed the conversion.

Then both sides had a player yellow carded for high tackles. For the under-18s it was now or never and they went hunting for a try to win the match.

From a penalty deep in the red zone the under-18s battered the Preston Lodge line before Gibson dived over from close range for his second try of the day.

Devenny slotted the conversion and the under-18s were back in front. In the final moment of the match, Devenny slotted a penalty to make the final score Preston Lodge 29, Lomond Helensburgh 36 and the under-18s were on their way to Murrayfield for the final.

The match will be played at the Murrayfield back pitches on Wednesday, December 7, when Lomond Helensburgh will face their familiar conference opposition, Morrisons Academy, from Crieff.

Paul Reaney, Lomond Helensburgh under-18 head coach, said: “The boys battled so hard for each other to get the win. I have coached youth rugby for over 20 years and I have never witnessed a comeback like that.”