Old Glory DC 7
Scotland Under-20s 70
A COMFORTABLE win, and no immediately obvious new injury concerns, made this a useful exercise for Carl Hogg’s men in the American capital, before heading south to Argentina for their World Rugby U20 Championship opener next Tuesday [4th June].
Despite the lopsided score-line, which accurately reflected the gulf in class between the two teams, this still fell some way short of the polished performances the young Scots will be looking for when they take on South Africa, New Zealand and Georgia inside the space of 12 days next month – but that was inevitable in the circumstances.
The unstructured approach of the home team in both attack and defence made it very difficult for Scotland to fully impose themselves. Old Glory conceded nine penalties to Scotland’s two in the second half, and it was a similar scenario before the break, which gives an idea of how hard it was to build continuity – and the frustration showed at times through careless errors and general niggle.
Having said that, the fact Scotland still managed to grab 10 tries to Old Glory’s solitary first half score, whilst also giving valuable game time to a number of players who had no or limited match-day involvement during the Six Nations, meant there was plenty more positives than negatives to take out of the overall performance, which was played in front of a crowd of 2,296.
Ross Thompson’s well-weighted grubber-kick picked out Jack Blain on the left for Scotland’s opening try with five minutes played, and the visitors burst straight back upfield from the restart with full-back Matt Davidson leading the charge, and although he was held up over the line it was only a temporary reprieve for the home side, with captain Connor Boyle powering over from the resulting scrum.
Hero soon turned to villain, however, when Boyle got in the way of Nick Kuhl as the Old Glory full-back jumped to gather a high ball, and was punished with a yellow-card – and Old Glory wasted no time in taking advantage, with prop Dante Lopresti rumbling over for his team’s opening (and closing) try.
Scotland’s set-piece superiority got them back on top, with No 8 Tom Marshall helping himself to a brace of tries, the first when he broke from a close range line-out and stretched out of a tackle to score, and the second an easy touch-down at the base of a scrum which had powered over the Old Glory line.
Scotland lost a bit of shape and composure for the next 15 minutes but did recover to finish the half with another score when hooker Callum Renwick broke from a line-out drive and scuttled over.
SRU chief executive Mark Dodson and his right-hand man, chief operating officer Dominic McKay,were both in Washington for the occasion and they gave half-time interviews to ‘Next Level Rugby’ – who were live streaming the match – to discuss their excitement at Scottish Rugby’s recent investment in Old Glory.
“Everybody knows that whenever rugby breaks in America it is going to be big and I think it is just a case of when it breaks and how it breaks,” said Dodson. “When we started looking at the area here in DC – its wealth, its stability and the sporting centrality – it made a huge amount of sense for us, and we believe that with the guys here at Old Glory we can make a big difference.
“So, we took the opportunity to create this partnership which we believe is in the long-term interest of Scottish Rugby, but also the MLR [Major League Rugby] as well.
“I think it is a symbiotic relationship. From our point of view, we can supply administrators, coaches, know-how – we’ve got a vast amount of experience across the piece – and players coming through as well. But you are also a bridgehead for Scottish Rugby, and we believe in the long term that this is going to be not only an incredible sport for America but also for Scottish Rugby – it allows us to globally promote the thistle and what we’re doing. Our ambitions are not just based in Scotland. There’s only five million people based in Scotland, and this is a big, big market.”
Scotland struck first after the interval with Jack Hill gathering a charged-down kick and flopping over the line, but still they could not shake off their dogged opponents. On a narrow pitch, they struggled to get outside the Americans, and couldn’t quite pick their way through the middle against a wholehearted Old Glory defence.
Scotland’s attempts to get into a flow were not helped by Old Glory’s relentless concession of breakdown penalties, which eventually led to winger John Sage being sent to the cooler for cynical play, and a few minutes later the pressure finally told when Will Hurd rumbled in for try number seven.
The Scottish back-line clicked into gear just after the hour mark when some crisp inter-passing involving Murray Scott, Rory McMichael, Grant Hughes and Robbie McCallum sent Lomond McPherson scooting in to bring up the half century.
And after a period on the back foot, when they showed great resilience to keep their hosts out, the visitors finished with a two-try flourish – the first after Old Glory made a pig’s ear of collecting a clearance allowing the excellent Davidson to send Ollie Smith in, then creator became finisher when Davidson hit a great line to burst through the home team’s flagging defence on his way to dotting down under the posts.
Old Glory: N Kuhl; J Sage, Z Forro, C Kunkel, V Malafu; J Stapleton, S Hartig; K Williams, M Katz, D Lopresti, A Oiyemhonlan, T Barberi, D Worth, G Lopresti, J Brown. Subs: C Barelka, C Jollie, S Morris, M McIlvee, R Smith, M Fletcher, M Reid, T Maitavuki, D Pickett, B Carroll, P Maola.
Scotland: M Davidson; J Blain, C Anderson, G Hughes, R McMichael; R Thompson, R Frostwick; M Walker, C Renwick, E McLaren, E Johnson, C Henderson, J Hill,C Boyle, T Marshall. Subs: M Wilson, A Nimmo, W Hurd, R Bundy, J Hill, T Leatherbarrow, M Scott, N Chamberlain, R McCallum, L McPherson, O Smith.
Referee: Lex Weiner (New York)
Old Glory: Try: Lopresti; Con: Stapleton.
Scotland Under-20s: Tries: Blain, Boyle, Marshall 2, Renwick, Hill, Hurd, Smith, McPherson, Davidson; Cons: Thompson 5, Chamberlain 5.
Scoring sequence (Old Glory first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 5-14; 7-14; 7-19; 7-21; 7-26; 7-28; 7-33; 7-35 (h-t) 7-40; 7-42; 7-47; 7-49; 7-54; 7-56; 7-61; 7-63; 7-70.
Yellow cards –
Old Glory: Sage