ALAN LORIMER @ BT Murrayfield
SCOTLAND came frustratingly close to achieving a win over Wales in the under-18 international match switched from Inverleith to the 3G back pitch at BT Murrayfield on Sunday morning.
In the end, the young Scots paid the price for a lapse of concentration just after the break that allowed Wales to score three tries in quick succession. The Scots, however, played the catch-up game successfully to overtake the young Welshmen only to be undone by a last minute try from the visitors.
However, agonising over what was essentially a warm-up game ahead of the international tournament in South Wales beginning on 31st March in which Scotland face England, France and Ireland, is not worth the effort. What matters is adding improvement to what was overall a very encouraging performance from the Scots.
International 10 March 2018
“We focused hard on the contact area and defence, and the boys today showed that they can be an effective unit in these areas. We managed to put the Wales team under a lot of pressure. The result is a tough one to swallow but that’s what you’ve got to take forward as a learning player,” said Iain Monaghan, the Scotland under-18 head coach.
On show against Wales were a number of Scottish Qualified [SQ] players from south of the Border, amongst them, inside centre Dan Lancaster, the son of the former England coach, Stuart Lancaster. In the event he, and the Bristol stand-off Nathan Chamberlain, performed well and will add to what is already a good choice from north of the border.
“There’s stiff competition this year because we’ve got a really good base of home players and the quality of the SQ players who have come in is high so it’s still very much open as regards selection. I was really pleased that the Exile boys fitted in so well. I thought Nathan Chamberlain at ten managed the game very well.”
“We’ve got a big pool of players in the SQ programme so we’re using the game today and the one next Sunday against England as an opportunity for us to look at these players and give them all a fair chance at selection for the tournament in Wales.”
Scotland led 15-10 at half time from tries by hooker Rory Jackson and Lancaster, and a penalty and conversion by Chamberlainm to a try by the powerful Wales number 8 Ioan Davies and a try and conversion from stand-off Luke Scully.
Wales were dominant in the third quarter, scoring tries through centre Joe Roberts, flanker Jac Morgan and replacement stand-off Josh Thomas. But the Scots rallied strongly with tries by Ollie Smith from a Jack Blain run, and Chamberlain from an interception, with the stand-off’s conversion of his own touchdown levelling the scores at 27-27.
BT Premiership 10 March 2018
A Chamberlain penalty restored the lead for Scotland only for Wales to show artful ball skills in creating a try on the right wing for Harri Doel that proved to be the match winner.
Meanwhile, a Scotland Under-20 development team drew 10-10 with Romania in Greenock. Ben Appleson kicked a penalty and conversion and Matt Davidson scored Scotland’s only try.
Scotland Under-18: R McLean (Merchiston); S Robeson (George Heriot’s School), O Smith (Strathallan), D Lancaster (Yorkshire Carnegie/Bishop Burton School), J Blain (Stewart’s-Melville College); N Chamberlain (Bristol/SGS College), J Dobie (Merchiston); T Jeffrey (Peebles), R Jackson (Edinburgh Academy), M Wilson (Duns), K Watt (Watsonians), J Barker (Newcastle Falcons)/Gosforth HS), G Wilson (Dumfries Saints), T Thomas (Merchiston), C Brown (Kelso) Subs S Clelland (Ayr), A Sinton (Newcastle Flacons (Gosforth HS), D Gamble (Merchiston/Kelso), T Morris (Dollar Academy), J Smeaton (Yorkshire Carnegie/Hymers College), L Kotze (Biggar), C Hoffie (George Watson’s College), C Hudson (St Peter’s York)
Wales Under-18: I Lloyd (Clifton College/Exiles); H Doel (Coleg Sir Gar/Scarlets), J Roberts (Coleg Sir Gar/Scarlets), A Owen (Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw/Dragons), F Jones (Neath Port Talbot College/Ospreys); L Scully (Neath Port Talbot College/Ospreys), D Land (Ysgol Bro Dinefwr/Scarlets); C Williams (Ysgol Maes Y Gwendraeth/Scarlets), D Booth (Coleg Sir Gar/Scarlets), A Thomas (Coleg Sir Gar,Ysgol y Strade/Scarlets), B Carter (Caldicot/Dragons), J Price (Coleg Sir Gar/Scarlets), R Brookson (Coleg Gwent/Dragons), J Morgan (Coleg Sir Gar/Scarlets), I Davies (Coleg y Cymoedd/Cardiff Blues) Subs C Lewis (Coleg Sir Gar/Ospreys), W Sanderson (Coleg Llandrillo/RGC), A Griffin (Marlborough College/Exiles), T Williams (Ysgol Glantaf/Cardiff Blues), C Tuipulotu (Sedbergh School/Exiles), E Bevan (Bryanston/Exiles), J Thomas (Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr/Ospreys), O Knott (Coleg Sir Gar/Scarlets)
Referee: L Davies (RFU)
Scotland Under-18: Tries: Jackson, Lancaster, Smith, Chamberlain; Cons: Chamberlain 2; Pens: Chamberlain 2.
Wales Under-18: Tries: Davies, Morgan, Roberts, Thomas, Doel; Cons; Scully, J Thomas; Pen Scully.
Scoring Sequence (Scotland first): 3-0; 3-3; 8-3; 8-8; 8-10; 13-10; 15-10 (h-t) 15-15; 15-20; 15-22; 15-27; 20-27; 25-27; 27-27; 30-27; 30-32
Man-of-the-Match: Scottish exile Nathan Chamberlain showed that his skills at stand-off could be valuable to Scotland. He and Dan Lancaster certainly added much to their team’s attack.
Talking point: This was a good start for Scotland even if it was not a victorious one. Scotland’s forwards coped well with their slightly heavier opponents and showed good skills at the breakdown, while behind the scrum the backs were more than match the men in red. The game next Sunday at Stirling against England will be a further test for the Scots and a further chance to look at more players hoping to wear the dark blue jersey in the international tournament in South Wales being played over Easter.