Physicality key for Scotland Under-19s

Image courtesy: Scottish Rugby/SNS Group
Image courtesy: Scottish Rugby/SNS Group

ALAN LORIMER @ Inverleith



IT was on the face of it an unusual match but for the Scotland under-18 side it provided invaluable experience of the physicality they will face next month when they play Wales, Italy and England in the international series in Cardiff. 

The young Scots have already played against England under-18s in a warm-up match earlier this month in Preston. But another reminder of just how tough life will be next month was just what the under-18s needed – and got.

“It was good for our guys, particularly those who didn’t play against England, to experience greater physicality. We had to do a lot of defending but it’s better that these guys get that experience now rather than when we go down to Wales. It was a really worthwhile exercise from that point of view,” said the Scotland under-18 head coach, Ally Donaldson.

A number of players who were rested giving others an opportunity to stake claims for places in Scotland’s squad of twenty six for the international series in Cardiff.

Outstanding for the under-18s were flanker Connor Boyle, centre Grant Hughes and second-row Cammy Henderson. Also catching the eye were full-back James McCaig and back-rows Tyler Thomas and Rory Darge, the latter pair both qualifying for the under-17 age group.

For the under-19s, this was a more difficult game psychologically. Losing to their younger piers was not an option and in the event the older Scotland side used their greater forward power to accumulate match-winning points.

The 19s actually had two under-18s among their replacements, Bath Academy’s Oliver Cattell and Glasgow Academy’s Jack McLean. Impressive for the under-19s were scrum-half Kaleem Baretto, who posed constant threats with his sharp break, and number 8 Dan Marek.

After managing to repel the under-19s for a sustained period in the first half, the under-18s finally found the confidence to attack the opposition, with a break by stand-off Mike Davidson taking his side into the opposition’s 22m area.

Then,from a constant stream of possession, Jacob Lineen was stopped a metre short, but when the ball was recycled and after several forward surges,  Henderson crashed over for the game’s opening try, converted by Davidson.

The under-18s almost grabbed a second try when wing Johnny Searle intercepted with a clear 80 metre run to the line beckoning, only for the referee to blow for an earlier offside.

The under-19s came close to breaching the 18s’ defence in the closing minutes of the first half after a siege on the try line but no score ensued leaving the younger Scotland side ahead 7-0 at the break.

The under-19s powerful forward play brought a rapid result early in the second half with a try by Marek at the end of a series of close-range attacks, centre Will Hunt adding the extras.

The 18s again under siege found a way out with an interception by replacement stand-off Ross Thompson but his hopes of a spectacular end-to-end try were dashed by the 19s rapid-reaction defence forces.

As expected,the physicality of the under-19s became an ever greater factor in the game, andafter a period of territorial domination the ball was moved wide to replacement prop James Wilson, who had the pace and power to run in his side’s second try, converted from the touchline by Baretto.

The athletic Baretto then added to his points tally with the final try of the match following a break down the left wing by replacement threequarter Kyle Rowe, to give the under-19s a 19-7 win.

Teams –

Scotland under-18: J McCaig (Strathallan School); J Seale (Brighton College/Harlequins), C Symes (Stewart’s Melville College), G Hughes (Dollar Academy), J Lineen (Stewart’s Melville College); M Davidson (Merchiston Castle School), R McLean (Melrose/Merchiston Castle School); W Owen (Melrose), F Scott (Jed Thistle), M Walker (Strathallan School), C Henderson (Strathallan School), M Sykes (St Joseph’s Ipswich/Northampton Saints), T Thomas (Merchiston Castle School), C Boyle (Stewart’s Melville College), R Dargo (North Berwick High School). Subs J Eagers (Merchiston Castle School), A McLean (Stirling County), R Thompson (Stewart’s Melville College), J McCready (Glasgow Academy), J Wilson (George Watson’s College), A Fraser (High School of Dundee), R Bundy (Stirling County), J Hutchison (Sedburgh/Newcastle Falcons).

Scotland under-19: P Anderson (Melrose); B Enyon (Glasgow Hawks), R Yourston (Jed Forest), W Hunt (Preston Grasshoppers), J Paterson (Edinburgh Academicals); K Brunton (Hawick), K Baretto (Glenalmond College); S Gunn (Edinburgh Academicals), B Clements (Sedbergh), C Eastwood (Watsonians), D Roger (Edinburgh Academicals), J Hodgson (Stewart’s Melville), R Sweeney (Glasgow Academicals), A Hinton (Merchiston Castle), D Marek (Currie) Subs J Samuel (Cardiff Met University), F Hobbis (Stewart’s Melville), F Richardson (Edinburgh Academicals), J Ross (Northumbria University), G Bordill (Northumbria University), O Cattell (Bath Academy), J McLean (Glasgow Academy), H Warr (Ayr), J Hennessey (KCS Wimbledon/Harlequins), K Rowe (Falkirk), F Fitzpatrick (Dollar Academy).

Referee: M Todd

Scorers –

Scotland Under-18: Try: Henderson; Con: Davidson

Scotland Under-19: Tries: Marek, Wilson, Baretto; Cons: Hunt, Baretto.
Scoring sequence (Scotland Under-18 first): 5-0, 7-0 (ht), 7-5, 7-7, 7-12, 7-14, 7-19

Man-of-the-Match: Connor Boyle showed again why he is so highly rated in age-grade rugby with another display of intelligent rugby, always on the ball and always seeking to create space for his backs.

Talking Point: A very useful match for the under-18s. As coach Ally Donaldson suggested this was just the physical work-out that his charges needed ahead of tough games in Cardiff next month. It also exposed those who haven’t had the chance to experience international rugby to the physicality that will required against Wales, Italy and England.


Image courtesy: Scottish Rugby/SNS Group


About Alan Lorimer 349 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.