Scotland under-20 hearts were broken by a Wales comeback in the Junior World Championships in Nantes tonight (26-21).
The agony was felt all the more fierce for the young Scots who had only just completed a comeback of their own after the Welshmen - ranked third in the world at this age - raced into a 13 point lead in the first half hour.
The boys in blue then showed impressive resilience to fight back and score 16 unanswered points to overtake their home nations rivals, thanks to a trio of penalties from stand-off Tommy Allan (one of which from his own half) and a try from number 8 Adam Ashe.
The Ashe try was particularly pleasing for the resurgent side who were rewarded for turning down a fourth shot at three points; instead they opted to kick to touch and attack from the resulting lineout.
With Allan’s conversion on target it was well and truly game on (13-16).
An incredibly tense second half then ensued as both sides piled on the pressure and continued to exchange scores.
Just four minutes on from the Ashe try, Wales levelled with a penalty from stand-off Sam Davies, though the real blow came when outside-centre Steffan Hughes crossed for a converted try a minute later.
Davies then added another penalty to make for a ten-point gap (26-16).
This young Scotland side were not about to go quietly however and, after a missed penalty from Allan, replacement forward Eoghan Masterson crossed for an unconverted score with four minutes on the clock (26-21).
Scotland continued to press for a winning score with the time in the red, but were penalised at the breakdown, handing possession and the win to Wales.
Scotland under-20 will now face Samoa in the final pool round this Thursday 13 June at the Stade Pascal Laporte, Nantes (KO 7pm local time).
Wales Under-20: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Aaron Warren, 13 Steffan Hughes, 12 Thomas Pascoe, 11 Ashley Evans, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhodri Williams, 1 Nicky Smith, 2 Elliot Dee, 3 Nicky Thomas, 4 Jack Jones, 5 Rhodri Hughes, 6 Ellis Jenkins CAPTAIN, 7 Daniel Thomas, 8 Sion Bennett. Substitutes: 16 Ethan Lewis on for Dee (55’), 17 Thomas Davies on for Smith (50’), 18 Dan Suter for Thomas (58’), 19 Carwyn Jones on for J. Jones (52’), 20 James Benjamin on for Thomas (52’), 21 Joshua Davies on for Williams (70’), 22 Owen Jenkins on for Williams (78’), 23 Jack Dixon on for Pascoe (50’).
Scotland Under-20s: 15 Damien Hoyland, 14 Jamie Farndale, 13 Robbie Fergusson, 12 Mark Bennett, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Tommy Allan, 9 Scott Steele, 1 Jamie Bhatti, 2 Russell Anderson, 3 D'Arcy Rae, 4 Adam Sinclair, 5 Jonny Gray CAPTAIN, 6 Alex Henderson, 7 Will Bordill, 8 Adam Ashe. Substitutes: 16 Callum Black, 17 James Malcolm on for Bhatti (51’), 18 Phil Cringle on fr Rae (64’), 19 Eoghan Masterson on for Sinclair (60’), 20 Tommy Spinks on for Henderson (66’), 21 Ali Price on for Steele (66’), 22 Chris Auld on for Hoyland (60’), 23 Jamie Kilmartin on for Bennett (66’).
Scotland under-20’s matches:
Argentina under-20 (44-13) Scotland under-20
Wales under-20 (26-21) Scotland under-20
Scotland U20 v Samoa U20, Thursday 13 June, Stade Pascal Laporte, Nantes (KO 7pm local time)
Scotland’s two subsequent opponents will depend on how they fare in the above matches.