Scotland under-18 were edged 23-21 in a thrilling encounter against their Welsh counterparts in the European Championship quarter-final in Poland today.
Despite some fine interplay, the match looked like a daunting task for Scotland early on, as they endured two yellow cards, the second coming when 6-0 down.
However, as is typical of this group, Scotland were relentless in their commitment to the cause, battled back into the Welsh territory and kicked a penalty of their own (6-3).
Unfortunately the Welsh made the overlap count as the half wore on, and crossed the whitewash at the stroke of half time for a converted score.
Outside-centre Adam Hastings clawed a penalty back for Scotland to lift spirits early on.
The end-to-end nature of the match then continued at a relentless pace, and saw the Welsh finish two well-worked opportunities at one end, while Scotland knocked on, and were held up, over the line at the other (23-6).
Scottish heads refused to go down and, after Hastings added another penalty (23-9), began to exert an increasing amount of pressure on their opponents.
Inside-centre George Taylor was first to reward the side’s dominance before wing Robbie Nairn made amends for his earlier try-line fumble with a score, two minutes from full-time (23-21).
Unfortunately the score at the corner flag asked too much of Hastings’ kicking on this occasion, as the kick to level the match sailed shy of the nearside upright.
Speaking after the match, head coach Eddie Pollock, said: “We played really well in this game, scrummed well and exerted a lot of pressure.
We opened them up a lot, especially in the second half and scored two really good tries, and probably have scored another two or three.
“The players are getting better all the time because they are working really hard, but the target for here is that we continue to improve the quality of the performance.”
Scotland under-18 will now face Portugal in the second round of the FIRA European Championship on Tuesday 15 April (kick-off 11am UK time).
Scotland under-18: Ruairi Howarth; Reuben Norville, Adam Hastings, George Taylor, Robbie Nairn; Rory Hutchinson, Andrew Manson; Murray McCallum, Jake Kerr*, 3 Zander Fagerson, Andrew Davidson, Jamie Ritchie*, Scott Burnside*, Matthew Smith, Ally Miller*. Substitutes: Lewis Anderson, Gary Robertson, Callum Sheldon, Lewis Wynne, Calum Hunter-Hill, Hugh Fraser*, Max McFarlane, Ben Robbins *
Backs: Ruairi Howarth (Gala Academy / Gala), Adam Hastings (Millfield School), Rory Hutchinson (MPW Cambridge / Shelford), Hugh Fraser* (Merchiston Castle School), Josh Laird (Strathallan School / Kirkcaldy), Andrew Manson (Stewart’s Melville College), Robbie Nairn (George Watson’s College), Reuben Norville (St. Pauls, London / London Irish), Ben Robbins * (George Watson’s College / Currie), George Taylor (Loretto School / Melrose),
Forwards: Lewis Anderson (Marr College / Ayr), Scott Burnside* (Heriot’s FP), Fraser Christie (Stewart’s Melville College), Andrew Davidson (Kelvinside Academy / Glasgow Hawks), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks), Calum Hunter-Hill (Stewart's Melville College), Jake Kerr* (George Watson’s College / Watsonians), Max MacFarlane (Hutchesons' Grammar School),Murray McCallum (Strathallan / Dunfermline), Ally Miller* (George Watson’s College / Watsonians), Jamie Ritchie* (Strathallan / Howe of Fife) CAPTAIN, Gary Robertson (Gala Academy / Gala), Callum Sheldon (Queen Elizabeth School / Newcastle Falcons), Matthew Smith (Stirling County), Lewis Wynne (St. Mungo's High School / Stirling County).
Scotland U18 (6-28) England U18, Dalziel Park
Ireland U18 (26-6) Scotland U18, Ashbrook, Dublin
Scotland U18 (21-23) Wales U18
Tuesday 15 April – Scotland under-18 v Portugal under-18, (kick-off 11am), FIRA/AER U18 Championship, Poland