Typically seasonal Scottish weather descended on Myreside this afternoon as the Watsonians ground played host to a meeting between a one-off Scotland under-19 side and a touring Australian Schools squad.
Photos: (l) George Horne breaks through and (r) Jamie Ritchie rises in the lineout
The downpour couldn’t dampen the spirits of a supportive crowd who saw the young Scots – together as a team for just 24 hours – battle against a well-drilled antipodean outfit nearing the end of their month-long UK tour. Despite some promising passages of play by the home side, the visitors ran out winners, 5-29.
Head coach of the combined side, Eddie Pollock, said: “I think a lot of guys played really well, the forwards were excellent and there were some really strong, powerful performances.
“We made errors and we lost two tries to one but the big story of the game was that we gave away too many penalties. We’ve got to be more disciplined and, because of that, we lost a man to the bin and went behind twelve points at that stage.”
First points went to Australian Schools, with three penalties against the Scots on the trot, all successfully slotted by their stand-off Andrew Deegan. The indiscipline resulted in no 8 and Edinburgh Rugby EDP Magnus Bradbury taking the walk to the naughty chair, leaving the Scots a man down after 20 minutes.
Australia used the advantage well, a well-worked break from the restart leading to a try for centre Tepai Moeroa in the top corner, Deegan again adding the extras to widen the gap to 0-16. Some good work from the Scots pack ensued but a promising break from Ritchie was cut short through a knock-on.
With Bradbury returning to the field just after the half-hour mark, the Scots were back to full strength, however it was Australia who saw the gap and ran in another try, from full back Andrew Kellaway, the conversion again from Deegan to increase the lead to 0-23.
A knock to Will Edwards saw him leaving the field just before half time, replaced by James Francis. James is the third member of the Francis dynasty to don the navy jersey after brother Ben was capped at age grade, both following in the footsteps of mother Debbie who has 15 caps for Scotland Women (who dad Mark also coached).
The second half kicked off with a promising break from Scotland’s scrum but it was turnover ball and another penalty to Australia, who now led 0-26.
With Australia on the attack at the restart, a spectacular tackle by prop Zander Fagerson pushed his unfortunate Australian combatant back a good few metres eliciting delighted gasps from the support.
As the weather deteriorated further however, Australia added another three points, appropriately through the boot of substitute Mitchell Third, with the visitors leading 0-29 going into the last five minutes.
The Scots continued to press, using every opportunity to pick and go, break, and try to find the gap. Persistence paid off in the end as Bradbury sliced through the last line of defence to score by the posts (below), a well-deserved try for a team performance, the final score 5-29.
Pollock added: “It was a fantastic experience for the 11 guys who are under-19 moving up to the under-20s. It’s given them an opportunity to play against a southern hemisphere team for the first time, and for our 12 under-18s, it’ll stand them in good stead for their games in March and April.”
The focus returns to the younger national age grade this week with regional under-18 games on Wednesday (11 Dec) night. A Caledonian side plays against Glasgow then Edinburgh take on the Borders, in the first of the selection matches. Those teams combine to play two integrated matches in December and January, giving coaches a real opportunity to see the best under-18 players in advance of selection for the squad for the 2014 European games.
Scotland under-19: Gavin Lowe **; Angus Rennie *, William Edwards, Josh Laird, Ben Robbins; George Horne *, Hugh Fraser *: Cameron Fenton, Ross Graham, Zander Fagerson; Lewis Carmichael *, Neil Irvine-Hess **; Jamie Ritchie *, Ally Miller (c), Magnus Bradbury **. Substitutes: Angus Wallace, Gary Robertson, Murray McCallum, Scott Cummings, Scott Burnside *, Ben Vellacott, James Francis, Ruari Howarth.
* member of Scottish Rugby’s Regional Academy supported by sportscotland Institute of Sport
** Elite Development Player 2013/14
Australian Schools: Andrew Kellaway; James Todd, Taane Milne, Tepai Moeroa, Adrian Henley; Andrew Deegan, James Tuttle: Fereti Sa’aga, Connal McInerney, Vunipola Fifita; Joshua Anderson, Ned Hanigan; Jack McCalman, Douglas MacMillan, Rohboni Warren-Vosayaco. Substitutes: Matthew Sandell, Alex Mafi, Evander Guttenbeil, Lachlan Cannell, David Morris, Mitchell Short, Mitchell Third, Harry Jones.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys