Scotland’s touring under-19 development select succumbed to a 20-15 defeat to Romania under-20 in Bucharest today, to conclude the youngsters' two-test tour.
The tour was organised in partnership with the Romanian Rugby Federation and former Scotland head coach Richie Dixon, in his role as IRB High performance consultant, and was designed to give a broader base of Scots an opportunity to test themselves at an international level while presenting the Romanians, who recently qualified for the IRB Junior World Championships, with a shot at top tier opposition, all be it one short of many front line players at this age.
The young Scots had overcome their age-grade counterparts just four days prior, with a 31-3 success, however the physicality of playing an age up proved to be a step too far for the development side at the Arcul de Triumf.
Melrose RFC and Loretto School centre George Taylor got the scoring underway with a penalty kick, before the hosts used their physicality to hit back with a try courtesy of a collected and driven lineout (5-3).
The Scots then looked to get back into the game by playing to their strengths, moving the ball at pace to avoid an arm wrestle with the powerful Romanians.
It was, however, in doing so, that they conceded their second score, as the hosts raced onto a intercept pass on their 10 metre line to run in a 60 metre converted score under the posts (12-3).
The Scots were then hit by misfortune as an unfortunate bounce of the ball, following a Romanian kick ahead, eluded the defender and rebounded into Romanian hands for another five pointer (17-3).
The young Scots dusted themselves off and returned with a renewed impetus; Stewart’s Melville centre Angus Rennie getting the team’s first try.
Multi-phases of pressure in the Romanian 22 created enough space for Edinburgh Rugby EDP stand-off Ruairi Howarth to draw the defence before offering the ball back inside to Rennie to sprint in under the posts. Taylor converted.
So it remained for some time into the second-half until the home side stretched their lead once more with a penalty kick, before sustained Scottish pressure led to their second try.
The Romanians rushed to clear their lines from their 22 but, with the pressure piling on, a miss hit the clearance went into the middle of the park and into the arms of full-back Ruaridh Smith.
With the game open in front of him, the pacy Currie RFC man set off on an arcing run, which saw him evade the Romanian defence to touch down at the corner flag for an unconverted score.
Scotland under-18 head coach, Eddie Pollock, who is coaching the development side on tour, said: “The two scores in the first half had been through our own, unforced errors.
“There were too many errors and, while we didn’t deserve to win the game, there were some good things to take from the performance.
“We scrummed well and showed some good pieces of individual work but generally there were too many mistakes and that allowed them to retake field position and relieve pressure.
All in all it’s been a fantastic experience for everyone because it’s very much a development side that’s out here, with about six or seven of them introduced to international rugby for the first time.
“We’ve learned a lot about a larger group of players and they’ve learned that international rugby is hard, and it hurts people if they make errors, and that’s the main message to come out of this game in particular.
“We’re very grateful to Romania rugby and Richie Dixon for arranging the tour, which I think has been a fantastic experience for both parties.”
* Scottish Institute of Sport supported player 2014-15
** Elite Development Player 2014-15