Three-Try Scots Earn Historic Away Win

ITALY 16-18 SCOTLAND

Scotland under-20 secured their first ever away 6 Nations victory, scoring three tries to beat Italy 16-18 in Capoterra, Sardinia today.

Two tries either side of an Italian penalty put the Scots in the lead but missed conversions meant that a second Italy penalty kept the hosts in reach before wing Oliver Grove found his aim and slotted a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

A converted Italian try immediately after the break brought the sides level before Italy added a penalty to take the lead for the first time and threaten the win, however, stand-off Alex Blair had other ideas as he crossed for the winner.

Blair scored Scotland's third to win the match
ITALY 16-18 SCOTLAND

Scotland under-20 secured their first ever away 6 Nations victory, scoring three tries to beat Italy 16-18 in Capoterra, Sardinia today.

Two tries either side of an Italian penalty put the Scots in the lead but missed conversions meant that a second Italy penalty kept the hosts in reach before wing Oliver Grove found his aim and slotted a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

A converted Italian try immediately after the break brought the sides level before Italy added a penalty to take the lead for the first time and threaten the win, however, stand-off Alex Blair had other ideas as he crossed for the winner.

It took 12 minutes for Scotland to cross the whitewash, Hawick prop Nicky Little playing the key role in a driven lineout as the pack piled over.

A high cross wind meant all kicking would be exceptionally difficult which showed when Grove's conversion was off target though, when presented with a simpler angle, the Italians made no mistake with a penalty to stay in touch.

With 34 minutes on the clock Scotland crossed the whitewash once more when the continually noteworthy performances of winger Dougie Fife were rewarded with a score however, with irksome symmetry, the conversion was missed and the Italians responded with a penalty to keep their hopes alive despite the Scots having most of the match.

It was then on the stroke of half time that Grove stretched the young Scots' lead with a well struck penalty.

Half-time: 6-13

Despite their dominance Scotland conceded a converted try almost immediately after the break to bring the scores level Italy before added their third penalty of the afternoon to take the lead, completely swinging the match's momentum, 16-13.

It was then up to the Scots to battle against the resurgent Italians, the swirling wind and hostile crowd to recapture the lead.

Over the next ten minutes Scotland under-20 Head coach Eamon John made several replacements with George Hunter (Glasgow Hawks), Aaron Hall (Newcastle Falcons), Alex Black (Leeds Carnegie) and Matthew Scott (Currie) coming on for Colin Phillips (Stewart's Melville), Matt Reid (Heriot's), Kris Hamilton (Caithness) and Jonny Kennedy (Sale Sharks) - the freshness of the forwards and the inclusion of Scott crucial to the Scots getting the decisive score.

With a lineout on the near-side touchline Scotland's pack caught and drove before the ball was spun wide from the half-backs to Blair, who had moved to outside-centre.

The deceptive play-maker than set off at break-neck pace, arcing around his opposite man from 20 yards out to score the unconverted winner with around 10 minutes to go.

Final score: 16-18

Scotland under-20 head coach, Eamon John, said: "We had to show some real character today and had to dig and fight for the victory.

"The crowd were very hostile, it was a bit of bear pit out there, but a brilliant atmosphere and a fantastic achievement for the boys - to score three tries away from home in those condition is an excellent achievement.

"They came to difficult environment, in difficult conditions and had to fight back from losing the lead - the momentum totally changed in the second-half and we had to win the game all over again as the crowd got louder and louder.

"We showed real composure to win this game."

SCOTLAND TEAM v ITALY
Tom Brown (Edinburgh Accies)*; Oliver Grove (Worcester Warriors), Jonny Kennedy (Sale Sharks), Alex Dunbar (Selkirk)*, Dougie Fife (Currie)**; Alex Blair (Edinburgh Accies)*, Kris Hamilton (Caithness)**, Nicky Little (Hawick)*; Alun Walker (Currie), Colin Phillips (Stewart's Melville)**, Matthew Reid (Heriot's), Robert Harley (West of Scotland)*, Michael Maltman (Heriot's)**, Stuart McInally CAPTAIN (Watsonians)*, David Denton (Edinburgh Accies)*
Replacements
George Hunter (Glasgow Hawks) on for Philips, Aaron Hall (Newcastle Falcons) on for Reid, Alex Black (Leeds Carnegie) on for Hamilton, Matthew Scott (Currie)** on for Kennedy
Substitutes
Lindsey Gibson (Melrose), George Hunter (Glasgow Hawks), Aaron Hall (Newcastle Falcons), Callum Stidston-Nott (London Scottish), Alex Black (Leeds Carnegie), Matthew Scott (Currie)**, James Johnstone (Currie)*

Man of the match: Stuart McInally
Match official: David Bodilly (WRU)

Players not available through injury: Craig Owenson - Heriot's** (rib), Grant Gilchrist - Stirling County* (shin)

* Denotes a member of the Scottish National Contracted Academy
** Denotes a member of the Scottish Rugby National Academy supported by the Scottish Institute of Sport

SCOTLAND UNDER-20 6 NATIONS SCHEDULE
Friday 5 February - Scotland under-20 8-8 France under-20, Tulloch Caledonian Stadium
Friday 12 February - Wales under-20 20-12 Scotland under-20, Cardiff Arms Park
Friday 26 February - Italy under-20 16-18 Scotland under-20, Sardinia, Italy
Friday 12 March - Scotland under-20 v England (Firhill, kick-off 7pm)
Friday 19 March - Ireland under-20 v Scotland under-20 (Dubarry Park, Athlone, Ireland, kick-off 7.35pm)