SCOTLAND UNDER-18s made it three from three at the Six Nations Festival at Cardiff Arms Park in Wales yesterday [Sunday] lunchtime, taking advantage of the early sin-binning of Irish hooker Tom Stewart for a deliberate knock-on to score three first half tries through Stewart’s Melville flanker and team captain Connor Boyle, Loretto School centre Robbie McCallum, and replacement prop Alex Pleasants from The Henley College/Wasps.
Impressive Bristol based stand-off Nathan Chamberlain added two conversions to set up what proved to be an unassailable 19-0 lead.
Ireland hit back with a converted try from 16-year-old centre Karl Martin before the break, and then piled on the pressure in the second half.
Stewart’s Melville winger Jack Blain, who has impressed in attack during this competition with three tries in Scotland’s two previous matches, showed his mettle in defence with an excellent last-gasp tackle on opposite number Aaron Sexton.
The young Scots spent much of the second half defending heroically inside their own 22, with five players combining at one point to hold giant Irish lock Tom Ahern up over the line. They did, however, concede three points through a Ben Doak penalty, and another converted try to replacement scrum-half Ben Murphy, which reduced the gap to just two points with 20 minutes to go.
Then there was high drama at the death when Doak sent a drop-goal towards the Scottish posts, but it fell short.
“We asked them to give us a performance and they did that today, especially in defence,” said Scottish head coach Iain Monaghan. “Where they were before Christmas to where they are now as people is testament to the work which has been done.
“They’ve had three great experiences against three different teams over the last 10 days and they have found themselves in different scenarios they wouldn’t normally face. The group will now kick on to the next stage of their development.”
Scotland U18s: Rufus McLean (Merchiston Castle School); Scott Robeson (George Heriot’s School), Matthew Currie (Merchiston Castle School), Robbie McCallum (Loretto School), Jack Blain (Stewart’s Melville College/Stewart’s Melville RFC); Nathan Chamberlain (Bristol/SGS College), Jamie Dobie (Merchiston Castle School); Alex Maxwell (Brooksby Melton College/Leicester Tigers), Rory Jackson (Edinburgh Academy), Dan Gamble (Kelso/Merchiston Castle School), Jack Hill (Sedbergh School), Cameron Henderson (Strathallan School), Archie Smeaton (Yorkshire Carnegie/Hymers College), Connor Boyle (Stewart’s Melville College/Stewart’s Melville RFC) (capt), Rory Darge (Borders College/Melrose). Replacements used: Alex Pleasants (The Henley College/Wasps) for Maxwell (21 mins), Gavin Wilson (Dumfries Saints) for Boyle (28), Scott Clelland (Ayr) for Jackson (43), Cameron Brown (Kelso) for Hill (55), Femi Sofolarin (Dulwich College/Harlequins) for Robeson (63).
Ireland U18s: Max O’Reilly (St. Gerard’s School); Andrew Smith (St. Michael’s College), Karl Martin (St. Mary’s School, Drogheda), Angus Adair (RBAI), Aaron Sexton (Bangor GS); Paddy McKenzie (East Glendalough School), Nathan Doak (Wallace HS); John McKee (Campbell College) (capt), Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy), Charlie Ward (Tullow Community School), Sean O’Brien (Blackrock College), Tom Ahern (St. Augustine’s, Dungarvan), Anthony Ryan (Clongowes Wood College), Ryan O’Neill (RS Armagh), Alex Kendellen (PBC Cork)> Replacements used: Ben Power (Campbell College) for Martin (38 mins), Cian Hurley (CBC Cork) for O’Brien, Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray) for McKenzie (both 48), David McCann (RBAI) for Ryan (51), Padraig McCarthy (Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai) for Stewart (60).