Scotland U20s V Wales U20s
Scotland U20’s fought back after trailing 12-24 to record the country’s second only win over Wales under-20, tonight at Netherdale.
A dramatic fight-back from the Scotland side, which seen them score 24 points in the second half, gave for a grandstand finish, yet, eventually, the ambition of the home team was rewarded with a 36-34 victory.
Scrum-half George Horne was flawless with the boot, slotting all eight of his attempts at goal, three of which were conversions.
The home side went into the break trailing 19-24, a Murray McCallum try in the last play of the half keeping the Dark Blues within touching distance of the opposition.
And the momentum continued as the teams emerged from the changing rooms, Scotland looking the hungrier of the sides, displaying true grit and heart, as they went on to score a further two tries from lock Lewis Carmichael and prop Zander Fagerson.
Run of play
Horne opened the scoring account for the day, slotting two penalties within the first five minutes to give Scotland a 6-0 lead.
Wales were quick to retaliate as back-row Tom Phillips crossed the whitewash following a well-worked lineout drive in the ninth minute – stand-off Dan Jones failing to add the extras in his initial attempt at goal. (6-5)
The away side carried their momentum forward, this time full-back Dafydd Howells sliding over in the wide channel. Jones successfully struck his conversion over the posts this time around to give his side a 6-12 lead after 15 minutes.
Following Horne’s third penalty of the day, closing the gap to 9-12, Wales wing Joshua Adams scampered up the touchline and, despite the best efforts of Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie, had just enough reach to plant the ball over the line in the 22nd minute. (9-17).
Scotland’s scrum-half, Horne, landed his fourth successful penalty of the day only minutes later, his persistence with boot keeping the heart of the Scotland team beating. (12-17)
The men in red strengthened their lead with another try before the end of the half, their centre Garyn Smith slithering through the Scotland defence to secure Wales’ fourth touchdown of the day. The conversion was popped over by Jones to leave Scotland trailing 12-24.
With the uphill struggle looking ever greater, Scotland were thrown a life-line the final minute of the first 40.
The home-side battled toward the opposition line, yet the ball slipped loose as Scotland encroached ever closer. Luckily, prop Murray McCallum was able to scoop the ball up and batter his way over the whitewash. The referee referred the decision to the TMO, with a view to a possible double movement, yet McCallum was eventually awarded with the score. Horne added to extras to close the half’s scoring at 19-24.
Half-time: Scotland 19 - 24 Wales
It took only two minutes following the half-time whistle for the pin-point boot of Horne to strike again, closing the gap to just two points, the score now at 22-24.
The belief in the home-side was evident, dogged in every area of the park, and their ambition with the ball in hand was again rewarded.
Following a beautifully timed run from local Gala boy Ruairi Howarth, Scotland found themselves deep within Wales territory. Scotland displayed great patience in the build-up, until tonight’s Man of the Match, Lewis Carmichael, crashed over to give Scotland a 27-24 lead in the 51st minute. Horne’s added the extras to extend his side’s lead.
The five-point deficit was quickly tightened to a two-point lead as Wales’ Jones pinged over another penalty in the 53rd minute following a Scottish ruck infringement.
Scotland were undeniably playing with more initiative, stringing together a number of well-constructed attacks, and it was beginning to tell as Wales continued to give away penalties.
At the forefront of the Scottish attack was the set-piece, led by prop Zander Fagerson who scrummaged fantastically for the whole 80 mins.
The Dark Blues took the risk of opting for touch, within goal-kicking range of the posts, in the 67th minute, a decision which paid off as following a number of phases, Fagerson rumbled over near the posts.
The referee again looked to his TMO assistant for clarification, with the decision swaying in favour of Scotland. Horne’s conversion gave Scotland a 36-27 lead as the game closed in on the final 10 minutes.
Wales had the last say as wing Adams, scored his second try of the game in the 72nd minute, yet it wasn’t enough as the Scotland boys held out for an emphatic 36-34 victory.
Full Time: Scotland 36 - 34 Wales
Sean Lineen, Scotland under-20 Head Coach, said: “It’s a fantastic result for us.
“The player’s showed great belief in themselves and backed it up.
"We maybe don't have the X factor players that Wales did but we worked so hard in the end. Now we look forward and keep building towards our next game, back here at Netherdale again, against Italy."
George Horne kicked eight goals from eight attempts, repeating the feat of his brother Peter who slotted all the points the last, and only time previously, Scotland under-20 beat their Welsh counterparts in Perth, in 2009.
He said: “We’re all ecstatic, the boys came back from nowhere.
“I think a lot of people wrote us off after the first 20 minutes, but the score before half-time was crucial and we knew that we just had to kick-on from that.
“Every time we were up in their half, we had to keep taking points and when Murray [McCallum] bundled over it was a real turning point for us as it got us fired up and gave us the belief to really go for it.
“Nothing changes going into the next game as we’ve just got to keep working away as a squad.
“It was great to pull through at the end, and we were delighted to repay the great support, and the coaching staff.”