Scotland Under-19s 31
Scottish Students 29
STEPHEN BRUNSDON @ Meggetland
SCOTLAND UNDER-19 head coach Ben Cairns believes there is more to come from his squad in their remaining fixtures this season after securing a hard-fought victory over Scottish Students at Meggetland on Sunday.
The Under-19s do not play regular international matches like their counterparts at Under-18 and Under-20, but as part of a Scottish Rugby development push, the chance to test themselves at a higher level has now become possible.
“The 19s programme is one that Scottish Rugby is trying to grow, it plays a big part in supporting the Under-20s programme. We’re trying to get as many of these guys to play Under-20s rugby, as quickly as possible,” explained Cairns.
“There are some good opportunities for the guys to get a gauge of playing international rugby. Scottish Students gave us that physical challenge today, we struggled to cope with it early and then we found a way to match that and then go beyond, so that was important.”
Cairns’ side trailed their Student opposition by 12-points early on but recovered superbly to take a 19-12 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Students were every bit their match and scored some scintillating tries of their own to force a grandstand finish in front of the 300-strong Meggetland crowd.
In particular, the Edinburgh University pairing of James Small-Edwards at fly-half and the rangy Ben Rose on the wing proved more than a handful for the Under-19s. As a unit, the Students’ pack was dominant and routinely barged their opponents off the scrum with considerable ease.
But the Under-19s were potent in attack and could have scored more tries than they did had it not been for careless handling errors and desperate Student defence.
Both Ben Appleson and Matt Davidson cut through the defensive lines on several occasions and orchestrated the rest of the Scotland backline with efficiency throughout. Appleson started at full-back before switching to stand-off. while Davidson began at 10 and finished the game at outside centre.
“We made it difficult for ourselves at the start but I’m really happy with the way the boys turned it around at the end of the match,” Cairns said.
“It’s not only good for them to get the win, but it’s also a great opportunity for them to play at this level and see what it’s all about and these boys will learn tonnes from just being out there.”
While arguably tougher challenges lay ahead, development is the key for the U19s squad. They have two more games before the summer, and Cairns is hopeful a select few can make the leap to higher representation.
“We’ll play Romania Under-20s next on March 11th, so we’ll potentially have a similar squad to the one we had today, and then we play France Under-19s on 14th April. So, for me, it’s just a really good opportunity for these guys to play at the next level and see where they are at, see what they need to do to continue to improve, either to see if they are able to push on to the Under-20s now, or next season.”
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