Another First For Young Scots
Scotland under-18 20 Wales under-18 13 Scotland finished the RBS 6 Nations U18 Festival with another piece of history. At Hughenden this afternoon they defeated Wales for the first time in nine meetings in this competition and what a worthy success it was too. Thus the young Scots, who had begun this event a week ago, on the back of a momentous win on French soil, could reflect on two victories out of three in the festival, and, perhaps, more significantly, a vivid demonstration of maturity and learning to win.Scotland under-18 20 Wales under-18 13 Scotland finished the RBS 6 Nations U18 Festival with another piece of history. At Hughenden this afternoon they defeated Wales for the first time in nine meetings in this competition and what a worthy success it was too. Thus the young Scots, who had begun this event a week ago, on the back of a momentous win on French soil, could reflect on two victories out of three in the festival, and, perhaps, more significantly, a vivid demonstration of maturity and learning to win. Head coach Colin Robertson and his assistants Alex Duncan and Graham Marshall deserve plaudits for the manner in which they prepared the 26-strong squad throughout an arduous week. Robertson said: Todays win was hugely satisfying. We lost a try after three minutes but what impressed me was the way the team came back and had a real go at their defence. Wales were a physical side and not short of good rugby players yet we fronted up to that and showed a lot of character. The players, their parents and supporters, have every right to feel proud tonight. Wales went into this afternoons encounter unbeaten. That run had included a 21-9 success against England, who, in turn had eclipsed Scotland 15-6. The early indications were gloomy for the Scots. Scrum-half Chris Jackson made a hash of a first minute penalty and then could not nail Welsh winger Adam Hughes in a tackle as the speedster escaped on a 2:1 for the opening try. Stand off Joe Deacon converted. As the first quarter drew to a close ” marked by a water break in the stifling conditions, now theres a stat for VisitScotland ” Andrew White and Deacon exchanged penalty misses. Scotland, it had to be said, looked a bit leaden-footed at this stage but when Welsh prop Tom Price was sin-binned for a scrum offence, White provided their first points, and a welcome boost, with a 31st minute penalty. Welsh indiscipline further riled French referee Eric Gauzan and substitute prop Aaron Coundley was the next recipient of the carte jaune, joining Price in the sin-bin. Scotland exploited their numerical advantage as from a lineout take by Nick Campbell, the ball was switched swiftly to Richard Gray. The forwards honey-potted around the lock and when ball was moved right to left Paul Loudons inside pass allowed the 6ft 2ins Steven Aitken to thunder over for the try. Whites conversion secured Scotland a 10-7 half-time lead. Robertsons decision to introduce Andrew Dymock as a sub for Jackson at scrum-half for the second-half proved to be a shrewd one. However, before Dymock could leave his mark on proceedings, Scotland added try number two. From a penalty to touch, six minutes into the half, Scotland cleverly varied their lineout ploy to set hooker Finlay Gillies charging like an enraged bull at the heart of the Welsh defence. Back came ball for Campbell to surge over. White converted and Scotland led 17-7. Wales pulled back three points through a penalty by substitute stand-off Dan Biggar and just as Scotland needed to steady nerves, centre Robbie Johnston was yellow-carded for holding on in the tackle. Hereabouts enter Master Dymock. Wales were threatening on a narrow-side attack and the odds looked stacked against Fraser Thomson, the Scotland wing as he was confronted with three Welsh attackers. Welsh full-back Jason Tovey was then downed by a spectacular saving tackle by Dymock, on retreat, and the lift that one incident gave his team-mates was tangible. Scotland shortly thereafter established a sound field position. Welsh substitute front-row forward Rhys Williams was yellow-carded for an offence in contact and White slotted the subsequent penalty to give Scotland breathing space at 20-10. Biggars second goal, for offside, kept Wales interested at 20-13 with six minutes of normal time to go and for all that the visitors looked to get the nudge on in the scrummage in the closing minutes, Scotlands defence remained sound. White could even afford to mis-cue a close-range penalty 12 minutes into injury time before the referees final whistle brought joy for the Scots. Scotland under-18: Steven Aitken (Ellon); Fraser Thomson (Gala/Galashiels Academy), Paul Loudon (Edinburgh Accies) captain, Robbie Johnston (Newark), Craig Findlater (Highland); Andrew White (Annan), Chris Jackson (Newbury); Cameron Godfrey (Biggar/Merchiston Castle School), Finlay Gillies (Haddington), David Morton (Bristol Academy), Richard Gray (Glasgow Hawks), Nick Campbell (Allan Glens), Struan Dewar (Strathallan), Tom Drennan (BATs/Trinity Academy), Chris Fusaro (Howe of Fife/Bell Baxter HS). Subs used: Andrew Dymock (High School of Dundee) for Jackson half time; Fraser Brown (Biggar/Merchiston Castle School) for Gillies and Dougie Orr (North Berwick HS) for Morton (both 42 mins), Adam McKenzie (Barnard Castle School) for Findlater (60 mins), James Taylor (Merchiston Castle School) for Gray and Gavin Cameron (Hawick Wands/Hawick HS) for Godfrey (both 79 mins) Wales under-18: Jason Tovey; Adam Hughes, Jason Harries, Ashley Beck, Ryan Bayliss; Joe Deacon, Rhys Downes; Tom Price, Ricky Guest captain, Stewart Maguire, Ashley Sweet, Dan Partridge, Lewis Mills, Rory Pitman, Jake Thomas. Subs used: Tom Rees for Bayliss (13 mins), Aaron Coundley for Mills (34 mins), Rhys Williams for Guest, Dan Biggar for Deacon and Lee Bray for Partridge (all 40 mins), Scott Andrews for Maguire (70 mins), James Loxton for Tovey (71 mins). Referee: Eric Gauzan (France). In todays other games France accounted for Italy 34-7 and England beat Ireland 23-12. Thus the festival concluded with all four home countries winning two out of three games; France winning one game and the Italians losing all three of their games.