It was a tough day at the Eirias for Scotland under-20 as, despite a promising opening, they ultimately went down 43-15 to their Welsh counterparts, leaving them with five defeats from five.
(photos courtesy of Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency)
Scoring the opening try in the first five minutes (above) and the last try in the final minute, the Scots struggled against visibly more powerful and experienced opposition but held their nerve and never stopped trying.
Head coach Sean Lineen said: “There’s no lacking of effort from our players, once they get on the same page, and there were parts of the game, early on, where we were doing really well and we scored a great first try. But then guys just relaxed and got tight and Wales scored a couple of really soft tries.
The loss of prop, Jack Cosgrove, to injury earlier in the week had been a factor in the result, Lineen impressed.
“Our scrum was disappointing and we struggled massively there. Losing Jack really affected us as he’s been scrummaging really well. To lose 26 points from scrums – which is what we did – that was the difference.
“We tried hard, though. The last try went 28 phases, we just couldn’t get over the line – then to score at the end shows the boys have got spirit and that was fantastic to see that. You’ve got to admire their pride and their commitment.
“Neil Irvine-Hess came on [sub] and ran hard, Lewis Carmichael controlled the lineout well and they’re youngsters, they’ve got another year and they’re quite lean compared to the guys they were up against. Our guys are fighting above their weight but they’re beaten up in there [dressing room]. It’s been a tough campaign for these youngsters and they’ve not experienced anything like this before.”
It was Scotland who put their foot on the gas from the whistle, driving forward, gaining ground and pushing at every opportunity. Solid work from Vellacott passing out wide from the scrum, good hands and confident footwork saw fullback Damien Hoyland cross near the posts, the score converted by stand-off Gavin Lowe.
The Scots nearly scored again, minutes later, when a loose ball was picked up and chipped over the Welsh attacking line, landing on the scoring side of the tryline. Hayland gave chase but it was a red shirt rather than a blue that covered the ball.
The 7-0 advantage followed by that scare, however, gave Wales the boost to come back immediately at the Scots, who sat back as a converted score five minutes later was added to by a converted penalty try before the 20-minute mark.
Constant pressure from the Welsh saw a yellow card for captain Tommy Spinks followed by similar for prop D’arcy Rae and hasty rejigging of the forwards, which didn’t aid the cause for concern with the scrum.
A successful penalty by Lowe in the 31st minute closed the gap to 10-14 however a series of rolling mauls by the eminently more powerful Welsh pack saw Boyde increase the lead to 10-19. With the conversion being lined up to signal half-time, a good bit of theatre was added by the Scots who thwarted the points by rushing the kicker and running down the ball.
The scrums continued to be the issue as Scotland fell foul of the ref and gave away advantage throughout the second half, a try for Benjamin five minutes in leading to another score, five minutes later for Adams, neither converted.
Scotland were getting frustrated and tired but fought hard to keep the Welsh from adding to the 10-29 scoreline until well into the last fifteen minutes as raft after raft of substitutions from both sides gave the game a stop/start feel, a further yellow card for replacement prop Cameron Fenton at 57 minutes causing more upheaval in the Scots’ forward pack.
Two further tries, both converted, put the game out of Scotland’s reach but, very much to their credit, they never gave up and after a massive 28-phase drive, their determination was rewarded with a score in the top corner from winger Jamie Farndale, making the final score 15-43
With just over four weeks until a squad is announced for the IRB Junior World Championships, the Scots have to pick themselves up and regroup for what will be a massive test on the other side of the world.
Lineen added: “We’ve got a window now to get prepared for New Zealand and it doesn't get any easier. These guys are learning all the time – just need to look at ways we can play the game and compete.
“I’ll be seeing them through this period to give them everything we can to prepare them as well as we can. But we’re up against outfits that are a bit further down the track.”
Game available to view on S4/Clic until 17 April 2014
15 Damien Hoyland (Melrose) *
14 Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby) **
13 Blair Hutchison (Melrose/ Loughborough University)
12 Ruairidh Young (Edinburgh Accies)
11 Sam Pecqueur (Edinburgh Accies)
10 Gavin Lowe (Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Warriors) **
9 Ben Vellacott (Gloucester/Hartpury)
1 James Malcolm (Ayr) *
2 Sam James (London Wasps)
3 D’arcy Rae (Ayr) **
4 Andrew Cramond (Aberdeen Grammar)
5 Lewis Carmichael (Melrose) *
6 Tommy Spinks (captain) (London Scottish)
7 Gabriel Carroll (Loughborough University)
8 Magnus Bradbury (Boroughmuir/Edinburgh Rugby) **
16 Isaac Miller (Loughborough University) (on for James 65m)
17 Cameron Fenton (Strathallan/Howe of Fife) * (on for Malcolm 51m)
18 Phil Cringle (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby) ** (on for Rae 40m)
19 Glen Young (Newcastle Falcons) (on for Cramond 60m)
20 Neil Irvine-Hess (Watsonians/Edinburgh Rugby) ** (on for Carroll 40m)
21 Sean Yacoubian (Glasgow Hawks) (on for Vellacott 62m)
22 George Horne (Currie) * (on for Lowe 75m)
23 Angus Rennie (Aberdeen Grammar) * (on for R Young 62m)
* member of Scottish Rugby’s Regional Academy supported by sportscotland Institute of Sport
** Elite Development Player 2013/14
Ashley Evans (Ospreys); Tyler Morgan (Dragons), Steffan Hughes (capt, Scarlets), Jack Dixon (Dragons), Joshua Adams (Scarlets); Angus O'Brien (Dragons), Luc Jones (Dragons); Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Scott Otten (Ospreys), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys), Ben Roach (Blues), Joe Davies (Dragons), Olly Cracknell (RGC), James Benjamin (Dragons), Will Boyde (Carmarthen)
Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Leon Crump (Blues), Benjamin Leung (Scarlets), Scott Andrews (Dragons), Ollie Griffiths (Dragons), Tom Williams (Blues), Luke Price (Ospreys), Harri Evans (RGC)
Referee: Elia Rizzo (FIR)
RBS Man of the Match: Nicky Smith (Wales)