Mckelvey On Excellent Start

Scotland under-18 head coach Grant McKelvey praised his squad after the players opened their 2008 campaign with a convincing 25-8 win over England A at Melrose.Scotland under-18 head coach Grant McKelvey praised his squad after the players opened their 2008 campaign with a convincing 25-8 win over England A at Melrose.

Tries from Seeumas MacKenzie, Max Learmonth, Michael Tait and Alex Blair enabled Scotland to chalk up a healthy victory and McKelvey admits he was pleased with certain aspects that emerged from the performance.

McKelvey said: "It was an excellent start to the programme. But we are not going to get too carried away with the result.

"For a lot of the players it was their first experience of international rugby and it was pleasing to see how they coped.

"The way we play it doesn't surprise me that we scored as many tries as we did; we try to play a fast, off-loading game.

"In the second half, we stepped off the gas a little and allowed England an opportunity to attack. But we defended really well for 20 minutes with some good hits and turnovers.

"This was part of our three-game selection strategy and we will continue developing the squad by sticking to the key principles that were on show out there today."

An eye-catching break from stand-off Blair, following in the footsteps of elder brother, Scotland senior captain Mike, set the tone for a barnstorming start for McKelvey's troops.

Employing a brand of exciting, off-loading rugby and the 'keep the ball alive' style was rewarded with a penalty scored by Blair.

With the pack winning turnover ball, and the back line managing to sweep the ball wide to the wings, Scotland piled the pressure on England A.

Capitalising on an English mistake, Scotland wing Seeumas MacKenzie picked up the ball superbly and hurtled towards the whitewash to score; showing exemplary decisiveness in the process.

Tom Brown then combined superbly with Max Learmonth to enable the winger to touch down in the corner after an expansive move had been initiated by Blair.

England A's woes were heightened even further when openside flanker Matt Everard was yellow-carded leaving the visitors even further exposed against a rampant Scottish side.

And Blair broke two tackles before passing to Michael Tait, who held off an English defender before crossing the whitewash.

But right on the stroke of half-time, England reduced the deficit marginally with a well-taken penalty.

Nevertheless Scotland were comfortably in control and boasted a 15-point lead going into the interval.

After the break, Scotland continued to dominate with England A rarely causing any genuine defensive problems and the home side enjoying the upper hand at the breakdown.

Blair then showed exhilarating pace when he raced clear of the England A defence to score a memorable breakaway try.

The Edinburgh Academy student then added the extras to hand Scotland a 22-point advantage.

England finally scored a consolation try right at the end of the match when Ollie Stedman crossed over for the visitors, but Scotland were deserved victors.

Scotland U18: Tom Brown; Max Learmonth (Rory Drummond), Michael Tait, Alex Dunbar (Sam Hughes), Seeumas MacKenzie, Alex Blair, Alex Black; Craig Owenson (Luke Pettie), Alun Walker (Mungo Strachan), Andrew Fraser (Nicky Little), Grant Gilchrist, Robert Harley, Michael Maltman, Ross Sutherland (Michael Fedo), Stuart McInally (captain).