A balmy evening in Bridgend saw Scotland’s under-20 squad put in a much improved performance from their 6N encounter earlier this year against last year’s Junior World Championship finalists, Wales.
Holding their nerve to keep Wales within reach in the first half and winning the second half, the Scots just fell short at the last, the final score 19-31 in Wales’ favour. Head coach Sean Lineen said:
“I’m quite happy – there are parts of the game we really have to work on but the guys showed tremendous character, the subs came on, we demanded an impact and we got that against a strong Welsh team.
“We won the second half, playing really well against a strong Welsh team. We scored some great tries, really encouraging.
“The big thing for me is that we had six set pieces in their 22 and we lost every one, whether it was a scrum or a lineout, and that’s just not good enough. The guys know that.
“We let them off the hook a bit but I’m delighted with the way the guys are stepping up.”
It was a nervy start as Wales took early control of the game, with a penalty slotted from 30m by stand-off O’Brien
The Scots countered roundly however, a chip through by winger Damien Hoyland catching the Welsh off guard but it was a wasted chance, without enough in support to back him up. Consistently good place kicking by stand-off Hutchinson wasn’t enough to prevent the Scots being driven back into their own half.
Scotland won the penalty after Wales were pinged in the scrum, Rory Hutchinson pulling the kick wide, but his side were on the front foot at the restart, captain Tommy Spinks getting the ball out wide to winger Sam Pequeur who belted up the far touchline to dot down (5-3) – Hutchinson’s conversion attempt was just short
The first of many rolling mauls by Wales saw Matthews over for the try, converted by O’Brien to switch the advantage to 5-10 on the 15 minute mark.
Wales came back on the attack but were pinged near the Scots’ line for pulling down, Hutchinson kicked to touch and won the scrum.
A great dump tackle by fullback Gavin Parker, on the considerably bigger Welsh lock, brought the opposition up short and precipitated a Wales double substitution on the half hour. Fresh legs saw the ball pinged out wide to Howells who zipped up the stand side to score, the conversion from O’Brien (5-17).
Another rolling maul minutes later saw Garrett score for Wales as bodies collapsed over the line, the conversion again by O’Brien to make it 5-24 after 35 minutes.
Magic footwork from Hoyland then saw him trip through the Welsh defence to get Scotland back in the Wales 22, prompting good pick and goes to put Pecqueur over again between the posts, the conversion from Hutchinson on 40 minutes to make the half time score 12-24.
The second half saw the Scots come out firing with sustained pressure, chip kicks, pick and goes and well placed kicks to touch to keep the action in the Wales 22.
A pounding break from lock Andy Cramond gave the offload to centre Chris Dean but he was rumbled into touch just short of inflicting further damage to the scoreboard. Turnover ball saw Harri Evans seize his chance through the gap and score, against the run of play, converted by Ethan Davies (12-31).
After Wales were subsequently penalised in the lineout, Scotland took a quick tap and go, pressing forward, with heroic tackling – almost to his cost – from hooker Isaac Miller preventing further progress.
A blistering dummy run from Hoyland, into the last ten minutes, then seemed to give Dixon cause to take issue for Wales as he was sent to the bin. A man down until full time, Scotland had to take their chance.
It took a few minutes to regain momentum but a superb break from centre Neil Herron followed by an offload to scrum half Ben Vellacott (pictured) and a scything run by substitute Jamie Farndale saw him cross in spectacular fashion, the score duly converted by Chalmers.
Scotland were back on the attack with the yellow card still in effect but just ran out of clock as the whistle sounded for full time to make it 19-31 in favour of the home side.
Pre IRB JWC training game v Wales, 14 May 2014, Bridgend RFC
15 Gavin Parker (Exeter University)
14 Sam Pecqueur (Edinburgh Accies)
13 Chris Dean (Edinburgh Accies/Scotland 7s)
12 Neil Herron ((Glasgow Hawks/Scotland 7s)
11 Damien Hoyland (Melrose) *
10 Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints)
9 Ben Vellacott (Hartpury/Gloucester)
1 Jack Cosgrove (Worcester Warriors)
2 Sam James (London Wasps)
3 D’arcy Rae (Ayr/Glasgow Warriors) **
4 Andrew Cramond (Aberdeen Grammar)
5 Glen Young (Newcastle Falcons)
6 Neil Irvine-Hess (Watsonians/Edinburgh Rugby) **
7 Tommy Spinks (C) (London Scottish)
8 Gabriel Carroll (Loughborough University)
Substitutes (all used)
16 Isaac Miller (Loughborough University)
17 Phil Cringle (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby) **
18 Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks)
19 Lewis Carmichael (Melrose) *
20 Shaun MacDonald (Stirling County)
21 Ruaridh Knott (Melrose/Highland)
22 Hugh Fraser (Merchiston Castle School)
23 Blair Hutchison (Loughborough University/Melrose)
24 Ruairidh Young (Edinburgh Accies)
25 Ben Chalmers (Melrose)
26 Gavin Lowe (Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Warriors) **
27 Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby) **
Scotland under-20 squad for IRB Junior World Cup
Magnus Bradbury (Boroughmuir/Edinburgh Rugby) **
Lewis Carmichael (Melrose) *
Ben Chalmers (Melrose)
Gabriel Carroll (Loughborough University)
Jack Cosgrove (Worcester Warriors)
Andrew Cramond (Aberdeen Grammar)
Philip Cringle (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby) **
Chris Dean (Edinburgh Accies/Scotland 7s)
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks)
Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby)
Cameron Fenton (Strathallan School/Howe of Fife)
Alex Glashan (Edinburgh Accies/Scotland 7s)
Neil Herron (Glasgow Hawks/Scotland 7s)
Damien Hoyland (Melrose) *
Rory Hutchison (Northampton Saints)
Blair Hutchinson (Loughborough University/Melrose)
Neil Irvine-Hess (Edinburgh Rugby) **
Sam James (London Wasps)
Gavin Lowe (Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Warriors) **
James Malcolm (Ayr) *
Gavin Parker (Exeter University)
Sam Pecqueur (Edinburgh Accies)
D’arcy Rae (Ayr/Glasgow Warriors) **
Jamie Ritchie (Strathallan School/Howe of Fife) *
Tommy Spinks (London Scottish) (captain)
Ben Vellacott (Hartpury/Gloucester)
Glen Young (Newcastle Falcons)
Ruairidh Young (Edinburgh Accies)
* member of Scottish Rugby’s Regional Academy supported by sportscotland Institute of Sport
**Elite Development Player 2013/14
The IRB Junior World Cup 2014 will be held in Auckland, New Zealand. Scotland’s pool games are against South Africa (Monday 2 June, k/o 3.35pm local); Samoa (Friday 6 June, k/o 3.35pm local); and New Zealand (Wednesday 10 June, k/o 7.35pm local). Further fixtures on Sunday 15 June and Friday 20 June are dependent on results. Last year, Scotland finished in 10th place in the tournament.