THIS was a disappointing end to a Junior World Cup campaign in which the young Scots have shown bags of potential and a huge amount of guts. There was no lack of desire, but you got the impression that too many of the players were running on empty after the emotional and physical roller-coaster ride they have been on during the last month. With at least nine first choice players missing – this really was a step too far for John Dalziel’s boys.
It means they have finished eighth in the final table, which equals their best ever seeding; while Wales end up in seventh, which funnily enough equals their worst ever placing.
Wales were this year’s Six Nations champions and after an embarrassing 71-12 defeat against New Zealand in their last outing they had a big point to prove.
The Scots, meanwhile, had put everything into their game against Australia five days ago, and they went into this one without their three most experienced players, with Zander Fagerson being rested, while Jamie Ritchie and Blair Kinghorn were both injured.
The Welsh were big and powerful, and competed ferociously at the breakdown- which really sapped whatever energy reserves the Scots had managed to muster for this final push.
The Scots continued to battle bravely throughout, and twice repelled the threat of being completely over-run– but when the opposition managed to build up a head of steam they had no answer.
Wales took the lead in the eleventh minute when a looping miss-pass from stand-off Jorrod Evans found Jared Rosser unmarked on the left for an easy try.
The boys in red wasted little time in compounding Scottish misery, with their dominant scrum earning them a penalty which was kicked to the corner. The line-out was won and although the initial drive was halted just short of the whitewash, prop Dillon Lewis was on hand to take the short pass and rumble over.
It wasn’t looking good for John Dalziel’s men, but they rallied bravely with Adam Hastings jinking through the tightest of gaps and combining with Charlie Shiel, before two quick recycles – with Hastings involved on both occsasions – put Robbie Nairn over for his third try in as many as games.
Scotland enjoyed a brief purple patch, but three bad line-outs didn’t help their cause, and then some weak tackling allowed Evans to break from his own half and touch down under the shadow of the posts. It was a fine effort by the Welsh stand-off, but even he seemed surprised at how easily he had been able to brush off the half-hearted challenges of at least four Scottish defenders as he trotted back to take the conversion.
Flanker Shane Lewis-Hughes grabbed try number four for Wales after six minutes of the second half, with centre Joe Thomas going over for number five less than a minute later, and there was a distinct danger that something embarrassing was going to happen to Scotland – which would have been a real shame at the end of a tournament that has provided so many causes for optimism about the future of the game in this country.
A marginally forward pass spotted by the officious Australian referee Graham Cooper prevented another quick score from the boys in red, and a raft of substitutions provided Scotland with a much needed burst of impetus.
When Scottish hooker Lewis Anderson crashed over from a close-range line-out it was the least his team deserved after several minutes of pressure and three cynical penalties conceded close to the line by Wales.
Then Alex Craig scored after a searing break from Hastings supported by Tom Galbraith, but a late try from Daniel Jones ensured that Wales finished on top.
Scotland: Try: Nairn, Anderson, Craig; Con: Hastings 2.
Wales: Try: Rosser, Lewis, Evans, Lewis-Hughes, Thomas, Jones; Con: Evans 5, Jones.
Scotland: Ruairi Howarth (Gala); Robbie Nairn (Harlequins), Tom Galbraith (Melrose), Matt McPhillips (Currie), Cameron Gray (Currie); Adam Hastings (Bath Rugby), Charlie Shiel (Currie); George Thornton (Bishop Burton College), Lewis Anderson (Ayr), Callum Sheldon (Leeds Beckett University), Callum Hunter-Hill (Stirling County), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Alex Craig (Hartpury College), Lewis Wynne (Stirling County), Ally Miller (Melrose).
Replacements: Hugh Fraser (Heriot’s) for Shiel on 44mins; Ben Robbins (Currie) for Howarth on 44mins; Dan Elkington (Melrose) for Thornton on 51mins; Scott Burnside (Boroughmuir) for Hunter-Hill on 51 mins; Lewis Berg (George Watson’s College) for McPhillips on 51mins; Adam Nicol for Sheldon on 66mins; Stephen Ainslie (Currie) for Wynn 66mins;
Wales: Rhun Williams (Cardiff Blues); Tom Williams (Ospreys), Joe Thomas (Ospreys), Harri Millard (Cardiff Blues), Jared Rosser (Newport Gwent Dragons); Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues), Reuben Morgan-Williams (Ospreys); Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Blues), Dafydd Hughes (Scarlets), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Bryce Morgan (Dragons), Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues), Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues), Morgan Sieniawski (Cardiff Blues) Harrison Keddie (Newport Gwent Dragons)
Replacements: Rhys Fawcett (Scarlets) for Domachowski on 41mins; Liam Belcher (Cardiff Blues) for Hughes on 57mins; Leon Brown (Newport Gwent Dragons) for Lewis on 66 mins; Declan Smith (Scarlets) for Morgan-Williams on 66mins; Daniel Jones (Scarlets) for Evans 66mins; Kieron Assiratti (Cardiff Blues) for Lewis on 66mins.