Scotland Under-19s … 28
Wales Under-19s … 39
DAVID BARNES @ Murrayfield
IT was a game of two halves on the back pitches at Murrayfield yesterday afternoon when a Scotland Under-19s side containing several players who have had valuable game time in the Tennent’s Premiership this season showcased impressive levels of power and flair to race into a 28-17 lead at the break, but then struggled to cope with a ferocious fightback from their Welsh counterparts during the second period.
“It was a really good learning for the boys to see how quickly international rugby can change,” said head coach Ben Cairns. “We were on top in the first half, I thought we had good momentum in our carries, good field position, mauled really well and our third try was excellent when we put together a really good passage of play. So, there was some really positive stuff there.
“But in the second half we lost that momentum. They came out really fired up and we didn’t deal with that very well in terms of being passive in the tackle which gave them too much momentum, and when we had the ball we played in the wrong areas and ended up trying to play a bit too much rugby around our 10-metre line, which cost us a bit.
Next up for this Under-19s squad is a clash against the touring Australian Schools & Under-18s side (which defeated Ireland Under-19s in Dublin on Saturday) at Oriam this coming Sunday. There will then be a couple of joint sessions with the Scotland Under-20s during the Six Nations window, before an Under-20s ‘development’ team take on France in Nice in April.
“It is great exposure,” added Cairns. “There are a lot of guys here who are getting a chance to see where they need to get to and they can now crack on – whether that is for the [Scotland] Under-20s this year or next year. They’ve been given an opportunity here to show what they can do, but also to understand the levels they need to achieve.”
Wales stuck first with a try from hooker Garin Lloyd off the back of a driven line-out, with stand-off Josh Thomas adding the conversion. The Scots responded immediately with an almost identical score from the rumbustious Ewan Ashman, with stand-off Nathan Chamberlain drilling home the tricky conversion.
The Scots then grabbed the lead when impressive centre duo Ollie Smith and Robbie McCallum (who left Loretto School last summer and is currently taking a year-out in Madrid before going to university) made good ground and linked well in heavy traffic to send Jack Blain in for the score.
It got even better for the home side when Callum Hoffie made good ground down his left wing before facilitating a quick recycle which allowed the Scots to keep building momentum through a pod in the middle of the park, which released the space for Blain to score his second on the right.
Wales kicked a penalty through Thomas, before Ashman rumbled over for his second try, once again off the back of a driven line-out; but it was the visitors who finished the half on the front foot with the powerful Taylor Hansen getting in for his team’s second score of the afternoon.
That final flurry of activity at the end of the first half proved to be a portent of things to come. Wales came out for the second half like men possessed and Scotland struggled to cope with their intensity. Tries from flanker Iestyn Rees, second-row Ed Scragg, winger Dewi Cross and centre Joe Roberts (with three men to spare on his outside) secured a fairly comfortable victory in the end for the visitors.
Scotland, to their credit, rallied during the final ten minutes, but couldn’t find a way through Wales’ aggressive, flat defence.
Scotland: Charlie Hudson (Loughborough College); Jack Blain (Heriot’s), Ollie Smith (Ayr), Robbie McCallum (Complutense Cisneros, Spain), Callum Hoffie (Dundee University); Nathan Chamberlain (Hartpury College/Bristol Bears), Roan Frostwick (Currie Chieftains); Lachlan MacKay (Stirling County), Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks), Mak Wilson (Melrose), Jack Hill (Durham University), Cameron Henderson (Stirling County), Kwagga van Nierkerk (Golden Lions, South Africa), Connor Boyle (Watsonians), Rory Darge (Melrose). Subs used: Rory Jackson (The Edinburgh Acacemy/Edinburgh Academicals), Sean Fisher (Falkirk), Alex Pleasants (Henley College/Wasps), James Barker (Leeds Beckett University), Gavin Wilson (Glasgw Hawks), Kristian Kay (Glasgow Hawks), Paul Cunningham (Watsonians), Matt Stewart (Biggar).
Wales: Ioan Davies; Alex Morgan, Joe Roberts, Aneurin Owen, Dewi Cross; Josh Thomas, Dafydd Buckland; Taylor Hansen, Garin Lloyd, Luke Yendle, Ed Scragg, Jac Price, Iestyn Rees, Olly White, Jac Morgan. Subs used:Cameron Lewis, Garyn Phillips, B Warren, M Ayling, Ioan R Davies, Dafydd Land, Evan Lloyd, Ben Cambriani.
Scotland: Tries: Ashman 2, Blain 2; Cons: Chamberlain 4.
Wales: Tries: Lloyd, Hansen, Rees, Scragg, Cross, Roberst; Cons: Thomas 2, Lloyd; Pen: Thomas.
Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 12-7; 14-7; 19-7; 21-7; 21-10; 26-10; 28-10; 28-15; 28-17 (h-t) 28-22; 28-27; 28-32; 28-37; 28-39.