THE Scotland Under-18 coaching team, headed by Ross Miller, will have a clearer idea of the make-up of their top squad after watching Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors in action against Wales Celts and Wales Druids at BT Murrayfield this afternoon [Sunday].
Essentially this was a couple of trial matches for both Scotland and Wales ahead of the Six Nations Under-18 Festival hosted by Hartpury University and Hartpury College next month [11th to 21st April] and for the Scots an additional match against England on 17th March at Billingham.
For clarity it is worth explaining that the Edinburgh side comprises the pick of the FOSROC Academy players from the capital and from the Borders/East Lothian together, with a sprinkling of talent from Exile-land. Similarly Glasgow Warriors is a coalition of the top Academy players from Glasgow itself and from Caledonia. And like Edinburgh, Glasgow Warriors had several from the foreign legion.
“The squad is now coming together, they’ve had a lot of information thrown to them in the last couple of weeks,” said Miller afterwards. “There were some really good bits of play today but, as always, there is still a lot to work on.”
First up on number two pitch was Edinburgh v Wales Celts. Edinburgh fielded a side that had the strength up front to more than match the Celts’ forwards and the sharpness behind the scrum to attack a hard-hitting Welsh defence. Moreover, throughout the side, Edinburgh had players used to playing a high standard of rugby.
Impressive for Edinburgh in their forward pack were props Dan Gamble, and Cole Lamberton, who took up rugby only two years ago. Sadly Gamble had to retire with an injury but the hope is that the big tight-head will be fit for the forthcoming international programme. Behind the scrum, two returning players from last season’s Scotland Under-18 side, Jamie Dobie and Matthew Currie, made their mark and there were eye-catching performances from full-back Nathan Sweeney and centre Scott King.
In the end, despite dominating the early exchanges, Edinburgh were forced to settle for a 19-19 draw their tries coming from impressive Leicester Tigers Academy No 8 Ben Muncaster, Edinburgh Academy prop Robbie Simpson and the Watson’s College hooker Gregor Scoular, two of the tries converted by Sweeney. For Celts, stand-off Thomas Matthews, prop Peter Jones and scrum-half Dan Hiscocks ran in tries and there were two conversions by Matthews.
Glasgow struggle with step-up in class
In the second of the two matches, Glasgow Warriors struggled to match the pace and physicality of Wales Druids, but amid the six try carnage there were still some good individual performers, among them replacement stand-off Euan Cunningham, flanker Josh King, prop Glen Brough and second-row Rory Jackson.
The problem for the Glasgow side was that too many of their players were not used to this level of rugby and in the end Warriors crashed to a 42-7 loss, their points coming from a late-in-the game try by replacement John Paterson and the conversion by fellow sub Mikey Heron.
For Druids, stylish and pacy wing Carrick Mcdonough scored two first half tries, their other touchdowns coming from centre Bradley Roderick, back-row Harri Deaves, centre Matthew Buchanan and stand-off Ed Dunford, who converted all of his side’s tries.
Edinburgh Under-18s: N Sweeney (Loretto); C Sharp (Moulton College/Northampton Saints), M Currie (Merchiston), S King (Heriot’s RFC), D Anderson (Merchiston); C Scott (George Watson’s College/Boroughmuir), J Dobie (Merchiston); C Lamberton (Royal High School), J Johnstone (Preston Lodge), D Gamble (Merchiston), C Anderson (George Heriot’s School), S Whittaker (Edinburgh Accies), R Tait (Sedbergh/Hawick), E Allan (Preston Lodge HS/North Berwick), B Muncaster (Rugby School/Leicester Tigers). Subs: G Scougal (George Watsons College), R Simpson (Edinburgh Academy), B Addy (Bishop Burton College/Leeds Carnegie), H Ferguson (Minster School/Nottingham), G Baptie (North Berwick HS), E Henderson (George Watson’s College), C Scott (Preston Lodge), A Harley (George Watson’s College), T Jones (SGS Filton/Bristol Bears), R McLintock (LOU Rugby)
Wales Celts: I Hopkins (Ospreys); T Cabango (Blues), L Bates (Dragons), I Evans (Blues), L Rees-Zammit (Exiles); T Mathews (Exiles), D Hiscocks (Ospreys); H Okding (Ospreys), L Phillips-Taylor (Scarlets), O Peddle (Dragons), J Peard (Dragons), j Fender (Ospreys), H Breeze (Scarlets), E Fackrell (Ospreys), C Tuipulotu (Scarlets). Subs: M Savage (Blues), T Bevacqua (Exiles), P Jones (RGC), G Evans (Scarlets), A Mann (Blues), W Gruff (Exiles), C Davies (Blues), J Bettham (Blues), M Buchanan (RGC)
Glasgow Under-18: J Craig (Hamilton); F Callaghan (Jordan Hill School), M Lindsay (British School of Paris/Racing 92), H Mercer (St Leonards/Madras), R McKnight (Dollar Academy); J Strain (Dumfries Saints), S Greig (Glasgow High School); G Brough (Kirkwall GS/Orkney), J Drummond (Marr), G Duggan (Dulwich College), J Campbell (Kelvinside Academy), R Jackson (Kelvinside Academy), J King (Queen Victoria School), J Minty (Strathallan), T Calbrini-McKellar (Wellington College/Harlequins). Subs: C Shaw (West of Scotland), F Lennox (Robert Gordon’s College), G Ratcliff (Stirling County), J Paterson (Glasgow High School), M Williamson (Dollar Academy), L Dreelan (Strathallan), C Cobbett (Hartbury Coll), M Redpath (Sedbergh), E Cunningham (Stirling County), M Gray (Strathallan), M Heron (West of Scotland).
Wales Druids: S Earl-Jones (Blues); C Williams (Scarlets), M Grady (Blues), B Roderick (Ospreys), C Mcdonough (Dragons); E Dunford (Exiles), D Davies (Dragons); S O’Connor (Scarlets), O Burrows (Ospreys), I Haskins (Blues), R Anstey (Blues), B Carter (Dragons), R Thomas (Ospreys), H Deaves (Ospreys), E Lloyd (Blues). Subs: R King (Scarlets), K Stevens (Ospreys), L Jones (Ospreys), O Crowe (RGC), E Lloyd (Blues), D John (Exiles), M Buchanan (RGC), A Mann (Blues), J Beetham (Blues).