Labelled as a training match, the intensity of the game being played at Netherdale tonight (22 January) between Scotland under-20 and Scotland Club XV suggested anything but, with some ten tries being scored.
Despite the Club XV having a 17-point advantage early in the second-half, a late surge from the under-20s made for an exciting finish to the international training match.
However, a resilient Club side held-out for a 36-24 victory.
Club XV head coach, Phil Leck, said: “It was a really good game despite limited preparation and a number of players having to withdraw.
From our point of view, the stuff we’ve been working on went well and I’m pleased with the outcome. We’ve been talking about creating and finishing chances, and tonight we did that.
“Sometimes we struggled with our defensive pattern, coughing up a couple of soft tries but we’ll work on that going forward.
“I feel we’re better prepared this year and that now we’ve got the side to go on and beat Ireland.”
A livelier and more energetic Club XV side went in at the break with a deserved 12-5 lead. The day’s scoring account was opened with a scintillating try from scrum-half Peter Jericevich, sparked by a break from, Aberdeen Grammar’s Erlend Oag on the counter-attack.
The under-20s could have taken the lead on a number occasions, both from the boot of full-back Gavin Lowe and from effective use of the ball in good attacking positions, yet an inability to be clinical in the right areas, as well as a high error count meant they could only salvage a try through lock, Andrew Cramond.
The Club XV replied with a try from prop, Alex Allan who crossed the whitewash following a small period of sustained pressure on the under-20 line.
Half-time: Scotland Under-20s 5-12 Scotland Club XV
There was no rest in the relent of the Club XV as the whistle blew to start the second period, as they opened up a 17-point lead early in the half.
Two very similar tries in quick succession from Gala’s George Graham and Oag, none of which were converted, gave the Club XV a convincing lead, 22-5.
Soon after the youngsters replied well with winger Jamie Farndale and centre Damien Hoyland linking up in the wide channels to allow replacement scrum-half Ben Vellacott to saunter over the try-line – Gavin Lowe was successful with the difficult touchline conversion closing the gap to 10 points, the score 22-12.
This seemed to be the boost needed for the under-20s as within a matter of minutes they found themselves grabbing another try. This time, replacement prop Phil Cringle was the scorer, with Lowe converting. 22-19.
However, the comeback was short lived as almost immediately from the kick-off, Oag found himself cruising in for his second try of the night, taking an inside ball from winger, Grant Somerville after a strong line-break on the blindside. The successful Jericevich conversion provided a small sense of relief for the Club XV as they regained a 10-point advantage.
A well-taken try from under-20 replacement stand-off Ben Cooper and a Lowe conversion, once again brought the score within touching distance, but Club XV stand-off Richard Mill delivered a sting in the tail as he sidled under the posts in the last play. Jericevich’s conversion wrapped up the game at 36-24.
Under-20 coach, Sean Lineen, said: “This game was a great exercise for us. There was a good few quality club players here that made us work hard and were very physical.
There were good tries from both sides but unfortunately our defence was a little bit cuddly at times. The next level up is international rugby where we know we will get punished from our mistakes.”
Full-time: Scotland under-20 24-36 Scotland Club XV
Scotland under-20 squad: Gavin Lowe (Glasgow Hawks / Glasgow Warriors);** Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Accies / Edinburgh Rugby)**, Damien Hoyland (Melrose)*, Ruairidh Young (Edinburgh Accies), Sam Pecqueur (Edinburgh Accies); Ben Chalmers (Melrose), Murdo McAndrew (Clermont Auvergne); James Malcolm (Ayr), Sam James (London Wasps), D’arcy Rae (Ayr / Glasgow Warriors)**, Lewis Carmichael (Melrose)*, Andy Cramond ( Aberdeen Grammar), Neil Irvine-Hess (Watsonians / Edinburgh Rugby)**, Tommy Spinks (London Scottish) and Magnus Bradbury (Boroughmuir / Edinburgh Rugby)**
Replacements: Ross Graham (Hawick), Philip Cringle (Edinburgh Accies / Edinburgh Rugby)**, Cameron Fenton (Strathallan / Howe of Fife), Sam Thomson (Worcester Warriors), Ruairidh Knott (Melrose), Ben Velacott (Worcester Warriors / Hartpury College), Ben Cooper (Boroughmuir), Iain Sexton (Edinburgh University) and Neil Herron (Glasgow Hawks / Scotland 7s).
*member of Scottish Rugby’s Regional Academy supported by sportscotland Institute of Sport
** Elite Development player 2013/2014
Scotland Club XV:
Backs from: Nyle Godsmark (Edinburgh Accies), Erlend Oag (Aberdeen Grammar), Chris Auld (Gala / Edinburgh Rugby), Ewan Scott (Gala), Grant Sommerville (Gala), Richard Mill (Melrose), Peter Jericevich (Ayr), Craig Gossman (Ayr), George Graham (Gala) and Greg Cottrell (Hawick).
Forwards from: Alex Allan (Edinburgh Accies / Edinburgh Rugby), Lindsey Gibson (Hawick), Ewan McQuillin (Gala / Edinburgh Rugby), Murray Douglas (Heriot’s), Russell Nimmo (Heriot’s), Andrew Nagle (Melrose), Will Bordill (Stirling County / Glasgow Warriors), Jamie Swanson (Stirling County), George Hunter (Ayr / Glasgow Warriors), Fergus Scott (Ayr / Glasgow Warriors), Nick Cox (Ayr), Callum Templeton (Ayr), Andrew Redmayne (Glasgow Hawks) and Gary Graham (Gala).
Referee: Mike Adamson