U20 | Scotland 26 - 27 Italy

Scotland U20’s World Rugby Championship campaign began in defeat as Italy scored a last-minute pushover try to spoil what would have been a deserved victory for Bryan Redpath’s young side.

Scotland held a 13-7 lead at the break and looked to be heading for an opening group win when Paddy Dewhirst scored a sublime try to further extend the age-grade side’s lead on 55 minutes.

However, the Italians – who grew into the match in the second-period – rallied when powerful winger Forcucci finished a well-designed attacking move.

With a 26-22 lead heading into the final minutes, and both sides down to 14-men, the Italians crashed over the whitewash to hand the Scots a crushing defeat.

U20 Head Coach Bryan Redpath was left understandably frustrated following the match in Beziers, but the former Scotland captain is adamant that his side can ‘can come back stronger from the experience.’

“It was a huge disappointment for the boys and myself,” said Redpath. “I thought they were outstanding for 90 per cent of the match, but there were three instances where we didn’t manage to get it right in the final five minutes and we learned tonight that you pay a heavy price for things like that at this level.

“I’ve been brutally honest with the boys about that being a lesson in the reality of senior, international rugby. They need to learn from the experience because things like that will keep happening unless they are a bit more streetwise about making the right decisions and being accurate at key moments.

I can’t question their work-ethic and desire. We led that game for 75 minutes. We were the better team overall, but we didn’t get out of the game what we put into it because of what we let happen in the last five minutes.  

“They have to be ready to go again in four days’ time because that game is coming whether we like it or not. As long as everyone is honest and take their share of the blame, then I am firmly of the belief that we can come back stronger from the experience.”

Scotland started the match the stronger of the two sides and took a deserved lead when scrum-half Charlie Chapman split the uprights with a well struck penalty.

With stand-off Ross Thompson controlling the tempo from the pocket and centre pairing Stafford McDowall and Cameron Hutchison providing the go-forward in attack, Scotland had Italy on the back foot.

However, despite the young Scots positive play, the Italians took the lead following a powerful scrum on Scotland’s five metre-line. As their scrum buckled under pressure, the referee had no other option but to award the penalty try.

Scotland would answer immediately, however, as Boroughmuir prop Ross Dunbar added the finished touches to a well-executed lineout drive.

With their tails up, Bryan Redpath’s side grabbed their second of the evening, and this time it was Chapman getting on the act. Following a steal and break by outstanding back-row Rory Darge, the ball ended in the hands of the diminutive scrum-half who shimmied his way over the whitewash from only metres out.

Scotland would hold a narrow 13-7 lead at the break.

Scotland’s positivity would again pay dividends as the age-grade side extended their lead only ten minutes into the second-half. Following a slick handling move down the touchline, the ball was eventually lobbed inside to full-back Paddy Dewhirst, who finished a move he had started.

Italy’s persistence payed off however, and when a neat grubber danced into the arms of D’onofrio, the Italian winger had the simple task of diving under the sticks.

Chapman would once again answer with a well-aimed penalty, but it was the Italians who had all the momentum. Forcucci powered over in the corner to bring his side to within four points of Scotland’s well-earned lead.

When try-scorer – Forcucci – was shown a yellow card, Scotland would have the numerical advantage heading into the final minutes, but when the Italians kicked a penalty to the corner, they would haveone last chance for glory.

With Scotland backpedaling over their own whitewash, Italian replacement hooker Niccolo Taddia dotted down to seal the last-gasp victory.