WALES Under-20 36
SCOTLAND Under-20 3
STUART BATHGATE @Stadiwm Zip World
SCOTLAND’S Under-20s were solidly beaten by their more experienced Welsh counterparts in Colwyn Bay, competing well for a large part of the game but only after the concession of three first-half tries had left them with too much to do. Two more late scores produced a final margin of victory that possibly flattered the home team, but there was no denying that they took their opportunities well while Scotland failed to create many real chances.
This was a step up by Stevie Scott’s side, as it had to be, from last week’s heavy defeat by a Scottish Club XV. But the head coach, while not faulting the willingness or the attitude of his squad, knows they need to keep improving quickly if they are to get anything out of next week’s match at home to France.
“Parts of our game were good,” Scott said. “In the first half we just struggled to secure ball. Earlier in the game you could see our maul was a weapon – we’d worked hard on our maul this week because we knew it was a weakness for the Welsh team. We had two good mauls in the first half but we never got anything from it.
“Later in the game, once we got into their half it was just ball security. We had opportunities but we just lost the ball.
“The effort was there. They’re a young, developing group and we need to learn from that.
“The Welsh are a big, physical team and have got a lot of experience, with 10 or 11 guys having been involved in the World Cup last year. I’m just a bit disappointed that the score got away from us at the end there, but in the early parts of the game we were right in the game, and we just needed a score when we had all that pressure.”
While Scotland searched in vain for a try throughout the game, Wales found not one but three all too readily, with the first coming through Harri Morgan with just a couple of minutes on the clock. The scrum-half recycled quickly from the base of a ruck and was there in support to get the return pass after centre Callum Carson had made the half-break. Cai Evans converted.
A Paddy Dewhirst penalty opened Scotland’s account, but that was no more than a fleeting bright point for the visitors as Wales went on to take control of the contest. Joe Goodchild grabbed the second try of the night, unconverted this time, after collecting a lucky bounce from a clever chip ahead. When Corey Baldwin then got the third and Evans added the two points we were still barely past the midway point of the first half, and it looked like being a long night for Scotland.
“That’s an area we’ll need to focus on,” Scott added, referring to the way in which those three tries were conceded. “The tries came through that area right next to the ruck. We struggled to deal with the players coming through that area, so we’ll have to learn how to defend that better.”
At least the latter stages of the half saw the visitors give as good as they got in some aspects of play, and it was to the defence’s credit that they withstood heavy pressure on their own line as Wales tried and failed to wrap up the bonus point before the break. Scotland had the upper hand for much of the third quarter, too, but could not get the try which was needed to at least sow a little self-doubt into the Welsh.
A break by winger Kyle Rowe after 55 minutes was promising, but when a penalty resulted Dewhirst was off target again. Evans then relieved the pressure with an excellent counter-attack from deep, and for a moment his pass to Max Williams looked like putting the Ospreys lock in for the fourth try, only for the move to break down.
Just inside the final quarter, Evans put Wales further ahead with a massive penalty from just inside the Scots half. If that was an indication that the game was up, Scotland were not taking the hint, instead continuing to do what they could to find any weak points in the Welsh defence.
The search was in vain, however. Wales resumed control of the game in the latter stages, and belatedly got the try bonus with nine minutes to go. Dan Davies appeared to have lost the ball forward while diving for the line before Taine Basham collected and grounded, but after referring the incident to the Television Match Official, referee Frank Murphy gave the score, which Evans converted. Baldwin got his team’s fifth and his own second try five minutes later to further emphasise Wales’ superiority.
Wales U20: C Evans; J Goodchild, C Baldwin, C Carson, R Conbeer; B Jones, H Morgan; R Carre, I Harris, S Wainwright, J Pope, M Williams, T Reffell, D Davies, T Basham. Substitutes: D Lake, J Reynolds, R Henry, M Jones, M Morris, D Babos, B Thomas, Tommy Rogers.
Scotland U20: P Dewhirst; S Yawayawa, M New, S McDowall, K Rowe; C McLelland, K Barreto; S Gunn, R Smith, F Richardson, E Johnson, J Hodgson, A Erskine, G Graham, D Onojaife. Substitutes: B Clements, N McBeth, M Walker, H Butler, R Darge, C Chapman, R Thompson, R McMichael.
Scorers: Wales: Tries: Morgan, Goodchild, Baldwin 2, Basham. Cons: Evans 4. Pen: Evans.
Scotland: Pen: Dewhirst.
Scoring sequence: 5-0, 7-0, 7-3, 12-3, 17-3, 19-3 half-time, 22-3, 27-3, 29-3, 34-3, 36-3.
Referee: F Murphy (Ireland).