FIRA/AER Tier 1 under-18 competition
Scotland 17 Italy 12
Scotland completed their FIRA/AER Tier 1 competition unbeaten this afternoon but had to battle back from a half-time deficit to account for their Italian counterparts.
The match at Lalouberre, near Tarbes, was played in torrential rain, conditions which the bigger Italian pack exploited, particularly during the first-half when they secured two drive-over tries from close-range lineouts.
“We had to dig deep, which was not the case in the two previous matches here, so the fact the players fought back and posted a win against one of our Six Nations opponents, is something to be proud of,” declared manager John Manson.
Head coach Grant McKelvey had challenged his charges to achieve three back-to-back victories but had warned the young Scots that it would be an intense Test match against the Italians, after the Scots two previous contests had resulted in big margins against Romania and Germany.
Sure enough, it was game on at half-time as the Italians led 12-9, Scotland’s points coming from three penalties by stand-off Tommy Allan.
Allan added a fourth penalty but the key score was a superb second-half try, which emanated from the Scots’ own ten metre line.
Full-back intrusion set Matt Lamb free and when the winger was caught he fed outside to the supporting flanker Alex Henderson who had the pace to finish off the move.
The Scots maintained their discipline in the second-half, whereas the Italians saw two players sin-binned.
The result means that Scotland under-18 finished their international programme with four victories from seven games, their three successes in France and last month’s away triumph against their English counterparts in Leeds.
Grant McKelvey added: “It’s been the most competitive international under-18 sequence that I can remember and I genuinely feel that any of the Six Nations countries could have beaten each other.”
Two players started every match and it will be interesting to track the progress of the Dumfries duo Callum Templeton and Chris Auld in the years ahead.
Scotland under-18 team:
15 Sam Hidalgo Clyne (Merchiston Castle School)
14 Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Academy)*
13 Robbie Fergusson (Ayr)
12 Chris Auld (Dumfries/Austin Friars School) CAPTAIN
11 Matthew Lamb (Stirling County)
10 Tommy Allan (London Wasps/RGS High Wycombe)
9 Alex Glashan (Edinburgh Academy)*
1 Jamie Bhatti (Stirling County)
2 Russell Anderson (Langholm)
3 Callum Maguire (Newcastle Falcons)
4 Callum Templeton (Dumfries)*
5 Adam Barnett (GHA/Mearns Castle School)
6 Alex Henderson (Strathallan)
8 Danny Kennedy (Wilmslow)
7 Will Bordill (Sale Sharks/Sandbach School)
16 Adam Ashe (Stirling County) (used)
17 Robby Wilson (Boroughmuir/Dunbar GS)*
18 Colin Hutton (Stirling County)
19 Adam Sinclair (Stirling County/Loretto)
20 Stuart Graham (Hawick PSA) (used)
21 Scott Steele (Dumfries/Merchiston Castle School)* (used)
22 Corey Venus (Leicester Tigers/Leicester College)
23 Jonathan Matthews (Leeds Carnegie/Prince Henry’s Otley) (used)
24 Keith Buchan (Strathallan) (used)
25 Josh Welsh (Selkirk)
* = Member of Performance Rugby Development Programme supported by Area Institutes of Sport