A strong second half secured Scotland under-18 a 35-11 victory over Portugal in the FIRA-AER Championships in Opalencia, Poland this afternoon.
The quick-thinking and sharp Scotland back-line exposed the opposition’s defensive kick-chase, as well as creating and executing overlaps in the wide channels, running in six tries to their opponent's one.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Scots, however, who found themselves on the back-foot only minutes into the game, as some intelligent lineout play from Portugal resulted in an early try for their hooker.
The retaliation from the Scotland side looked dangerous but, initially, failed to bear fruit, as a number of unforced errors cost potential scores.
However, they soon settled into their stride, with live wire scrum-half Hugh Fraser the instigator.
His quick tap-penalty caught Portugal off guard before he fed number 8 Ally Miller to crash over at the corner and level the scores (5-5).
Following an Adam Hastings penalty, Fraser was again involved as he set up back-row Matthew Smith to cross the whitewash on the sound of the half-time whistle.
Scotland started the second period with huge hunger.
The side's initiative to attack from a deep kick-return saw Hastings again involved as he broke up the wing, collected his chip kick and fed fellow centre George Taylor, who crashed over.
Hastings stepped up to slot the conversion (20-8).
With captain Jamie Ritchie in the sin-bin, Portugal took advantage of their extra-man in the scrum to yield a penalty, which they kicked through the posts (20-11).
This seemed to spark an unforgiving reply from the Scots as wing Ben Robbins showcased his searing pace to scorch past the Portuguese defence from the half-way mark.
His wing partner, Robbie Nairn, then slid into the corner only minutes later to stretch their lead to 30-11.
To round off the game, replacement forward Fraser Christie battled his way over the line to grab the final try of the match.
Scotland under-18 will now face the winner of today's Italy v Georgia match in the fifth/sixth place play-off this Saturday 19 April (10am UK time).
Scotland U18 team: Saul Melvin-Farr; Ben Robbins, Adam Hastings, George Taylor, Robbie Nairn*; Rory Hutchinson, Hugh Fraser *; Gary Robertson, Lewis Anderson, Zander Fagerson, Jamie Ritchie*, Callum Hunter-Hill, Scott Burnside*, Matthew Smith, Ally Miller*. Substitutes: Jake Kerr*, Murray McCallum, Callum Sheldon, Lewis Wynne, Fraser Christie, Andrew Manson, Max MacFarlane, Ruairi Howarth.
* Scottish Institute of Sport supported player 2013/14
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), Saul Melvin-Farr (Edinburgh Academy), Robbie Nairn (George Watson’s College), Reuben Norville (St. Pauls, London / London Irish), Ben Robbins * (George Watson’s College), 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
Scotland U18 (35-11) Portugal U18, Opalenica
Saturday 19 April – Scotland U18 v (Italy or Georgia), Plewiska, Poloand (kick-off 10am UK)