Scots Post First Festival Victory

Scotland under-18 20 Italy under-18 17 Scotland posted their first victory of the RBS 6 Nations U18 Festival at Hughenden, Glasgow, tonight having just too much imagination for their Italian opponents. But having led 12-0 in as many minutes and 20-5 early in the second-half it was a concern that they did not close out the game and allowed Italy back into proceedings, albeit deep in injury time.Scotland under-18 20
Italy under-18 17

Scotland posted their first victory of the RBS 6 Nations U18 Festival at Hughenden, Glasgow, tonight having just too much imagination for their Italian opponents.

But having led 12-0 in as many minutes and 20-5 early in the second-half it was a concern that they did not close out the game and allowed Italy back into proceedings, albeit deep in injury time.

That point was acknowledged by Scotland head coach Colin Robertson. “It’s a win and in international rugby that means a lot to this group of players. But they know we should have won more comfortably against an Italian side that also played some good rugby and was very sharp, especially in midfield.

“We did score some really good tries but we didn’t sustain our quality throughout the game and there were aspects of our play in the second-half that leave us with plenty of work to do ahead of our final game against Wales on Saturday,” he said.

After succumbing to a rather one-dimensional England in their opening match at the weekend, the tempo of tonight’s contest was more to Scotland’s liking and they scored three well-crafted tries as a consequence.

Scotland had an early scoring chance but Grant Anderson was just off target with a 40 metre penalty attempt.

The opening points were not long delayed however. From lineout possession and the midfield combination of Steven Wilson and Paul Loudon, Scotland recycled and switched to the blindside for Steven Aitken to release Craig Findlater. The winger (pictured) stepped off his left foot and beat two defenders for a fine try. Scott Meakin converted and Scotland led 7-0 after six minutes.

Better followed as from a good advantage by the referee from an Italian knock-on, Loudon again took up ball and Scotland switched left from the ruck. Fraser Brown, who had already earned plaudits in forward drive at contact, gave a sweet mis-pass and Richard Gray then exchanged passes with Findlater before the lanky lock dotted down.

Italy responded with a penalty to touch, a driven lineout and hooker Federico Zecchin peeled off to crash over for their opening try.

But as the game entered the second quarter Meakin landed a simple offside penalty to increase Scotland’s advantage to 15-5, which was the interval scoreline.

Four minutes into the second period Scotland claimed their third try. From a penalty to touch, Nick Campbell caught and the ball was quickly transferred to Gray around whom his forwards gathered and drove towards the Italian line. Out popped the ball and swift transference right to left enabled Aitken to intrude from full-back and burst over for the score.

Aitken continued to be the centre of attention as he was deemed by the referee to have knocked on deliberately on a two-to one within five metres of the Scotland line (in which case shouldn’t it have been a penalty try?). It mattered not as Italy took a quick tap penalty and No 8 and captain Luca Petillo was driven over for the try.

Scotland had chances to seal a safety score but often they sought to play too much rugby rather than play the territory.

Deep in injury time Italian persistence was rewarded when Scotland conceded a breakdown penalty, advanced 10 metres for failure to release the ball. Italy tapped and at the ruck, Scotland’s defensive guards went missing for Guglielmo Arnulfo to break free and Denis Majstorovic rounded off with Italy’s third try, converted by substitute stand-off Luca Favaretto.

Scotland under-18: Steven Aitken (Ellon); Grant Anderson (Greenock Wanderers), Paul Loudon (Edinburgh Accies) CAPTAIN, Steven Wilson (Howe of Fife/Bell Baxter HS), Craig Findlater (Highland); Scott Meakin (Ivybridge), Andrew Dymock (High School of Dundee); Gavin Cameron (Hawick Wanderers/Hawick HS), Fraser Brown (Biggar/Merchiston Castle School), Dougie Orr (North Berwick HS), Richard Gray (Glasgow Hawks), Nick Campbell (Allan Glen’s), Struan Dewar (Strathallan), Edward Maslaveckas (Harrogate), Neil Rodger (Haddington/Knox Academy)

Subs used: Andrew White (Annan) for Meakin (48 mins), David Morton (Bristol Academy) for Orr (57 mins), Chris Fusaro (Howe of Fife/Bell Baxter HS) for Dewar (58 mins), Fraser Thomson (Gala/Galashiels Academy) for Aitken (65 mins), Tom Drennan (BATs/Trinity Academy) for Rodger (69 mins).

Italy under-18: Tommaso Benvenuti; Stefano Peruzzo, Sevan Daupi, Denis Majstorovic, Umberto Missaglia; Pierfrancesco Dotta, Sebastiano Dusi; Fabio Cociuera, Federico Zecchin, Roberto De Luca, Joshua Furno, Giacomo Bernini, Eduardo Montagni, Luca Petillo, Andrea Lovotti.

Referee: Steven Edwards (Wales)

In tonight’s other matches Ireland beat France 8-5 and Wales eclipsed England 21-9.