SCOTLAND UNDER-18s got their Six Nations Festival campaign off to a flying start at the Centre for Sporting Excellence in Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly, Wales, this [Saturday] lunch-time, by recovering from being 27-10 down against England midway through the second half to secure a famous 32-27 victory.
The result is all the more remarkable because it comes less than two weeks after the young Scots lost 0-64 in a tournament warm-up match against the same opposition on the back pitches at Murrayfield.
In this match, Femi Sofolarin (a replacement back from Dulwich College/Harlequins Academy) scored Scotland’s only try in the first-half and they trailed 15-5 at the break.
England increased the lead to 20-5 early in the second-half, before Stewart’s Melville winger Jack Blain crossed to reduce the deficit to 10-20. Another converted try by England pushed them 27-10 ahead, before the Scotland comeback began.
Femi Sofolarin scored his second of the match and then Loretto School centre Robbie McCallum also got in on the act, with his try converted by replacement Dan Lancaster.
Then, with just a few minutes remaining, Blain raced up the touchline, beating four defenders to score in the corner, with Dan Lancaster, son of former England coach Stuart, converting to make it 29-27.
Lancaster kicked a late penalty to secure a sensational 32-27 victory for Scotland.
“Our boys have worked very hard since the defeat to England two weeks ago and did a lot of studying of the game. They highlighted a couple of key points around defence which they could improve,” said head coach Iain Monaghan.
“We also added a couple of additional players to the squad who were involved with Scotland U-20 – Rory Darge and Connor Boyle – and that has given the group a boost.”
“England can score from anywhere and they did that today, so it’s all credit to England and we’re learning a bit from them about how to play.
“Credit to our guys for the character they showed in the second-half to grind out the victory.”
“It’s quite a quick turnaround to our game against France on Wednesday, so we’ll recover well, review the game and do a quick session.”
“It’s great to start with a win as it’ll give the boys belief ahead of that game.”
Scotland play France on Wednesday at Cardiff Arms Park with a 5pm kick-off.
Scotland Under-18 team –
15. Charlie Hudson (St Peter’s, York)
14. Rufus McLean (Merchiston Castle School)
13. Scott Robeson (George Heriot’s School)
12. Robbie McCallum (Loretto School)
11. Jack Blain* (Stewart’s Melville College / Stewarts Melville RFC)
10. Nathan Chamberlain (Bristol / SGS College)
9. Jamie Dobie* (Merchiston Castle School)
1. Thomas Jeffrey (Peebles)
2. Rory Jackson (Edinburgh Academy)
3. Daniel Gamble (Kelso / Merchiston Castle School)
4. Tom Morris (Dollar Academy)
5. Cameron Henderson (Strathallan School)
6. Jack Hill (Sedbergh School)
7. Connor Boyle* (Stewart’s Melville College / Stewart’s Meville RFC)
8. Rory Darge (Borders College / Melrose)
16. Scott Clelland (Ayr)
17. Mak Wilson (Duns)
18. Alex Pleasants (The Henley College / Wasps)
19. Archie Smeaton (Yorkshire Carnegie / Hymers College)
20. Gavin Wilson (Dumfries Saints)
21. Kristian Kay (Stowe School / Wasps)
22. Dan Lancaster (Yorkshire Carnegie / Bishop Burton College)
23. Matthew Currie (Merchiston Castle School)
24. Paul Cunningham (George Watson’s College)
25. Femi Sofolarin (Dulwich College / Harlequins)
26. Cameron Brown (Kelso)