Junior World Trophy: Scotland Under-20s sign off with big win over exhausted Samoa

Total set-piece domination provides the platform for 3rd/4th place play-off victory

Scotland's totally dominant line-out maul provided the platform for a big win over Samoa. Image: World Rugby
Scotland's totally dominant line-out maul provided the platform for a big win over Samoa. Image: World Rugby

Scotland 83

Samoa 10

AT the end of a tough week, Scotland Under-20s signed-off their Junior World Trophy campaign in Kenya with a comprehensive 3rd/4th place play-off win over a Samoa team which struggled to compete up front throughout and ran out of gas completely early in the second half.

It was a morale-boosting experience for Kenny Murray‘s side after Tuesday’s lacklustre loss to Uruguay, which cost them the chance to compete in this tournament’s final and to secure promotion back into the top tier Junior World Championship next season.

“The boys were really down and so were the staff after that Uruguay game, so we had to try and pick each other up, and I thought we did that really well,” said the head coach afterwards. “We just spoke about finishing the tournament well, going out there and expressing ourselves and showing other people what we’re about from a rugby perspective. So, I can’t take anything away from the boys. To put in a performance like that and score some good tries was fantastic.

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“I thought they showed really good character today right from the first minute of the game – we got right on top of them and were pretty relentless in our attack. We knew they were a big offloading side and the only try we conceded was from a charge-down when we didn’t get our blocking right, so I’m really pleased with the character and performance in general.”

The young Scots softened Samoa up with two driven maul tries inside the first 10 minutes, the first scored by debuting back-row Monroe Job and the second by prolific hooker Corey Tait.

Scottish co-captain Ben Afshar converted the second and then added the extras to his own try which came off a break from the base of a ruck on 16 minutes, but hero turned to villain a few seconds later when Samoan blindside Faauiga Tanumoa charged down Afshar’s sloppy box-kick then dived on the loose ball as it bounced into the in-goal area to open his team’s account.

Scotland quickly regained momentum with Job claiming his second try in similar fashion to his first, but they were then reduced to 14 men for ten minutes when Jake Parkinson saw yellow for slapping the ball out of Samoan scrum-half  Filoialii Junior Reti‘s hands at the base of a ruck whilst in an offside position. Ava Moleli stepped up and slotted the penalty to go with his earlier conversion.

The numbers were evened up four minutes later when Tanumoa was sent to the cooler for collapsing a Scottish maul as it rumbled once again towards the try-line, then Job went over for his third maul try with five minutes left in the half, and with confidence now boosted the young thistles began to open up their game although didn’t score again before the break.


The second half got going with another line-out maul try, this time scored by Callum Norrie, and after Ben Salmon and Finn Douglas were prominent in a sweeping Scottish attack from deep, Norrie rumbled over again from close-range from a quick tap-penalty.

Samoa lost influential playmaker Moleli to a head injury and were now really struggling to stay competitive, and Scotland once again punished them at maul time before the ball went wide through Andy McLean and Dan King to send Kerr Johnston over on the right.

Parkinson was next in on the act, bursting over from close range after an impressive passage of Scots build-up play, then Tait claimed his second try of the day and his sixth of the tournament with Samoa barely providing any opposition at the line-out this time.

Will Robinson – coming off the bench just over 48 hours after arriving in Kenya as emergency injury cover – claimed Scots try number 11, Archie Falconer marked his debut off the bench with yet another line-out maul try, and Matt Reid finished the scoring with a flourish following a lovely weaving run from Ben Salmon.

“When we reflected back on that Uruguay game, we agreed that our game management wasn’t good enough, so that was a massive learning for us as a team of young guys,” added Murray. “I thought our game management today was really good. Ben [Afshar] kicked really well to put us in the right areas, and I thought Andy McLean as a young 10 showed that he has learned a lot in this campaign, and that’s another 80 minutes of learning under his belt which will all help when he hopefully comes back into this team next year.

“He’s not played a lot at 10 since under-18s – just a few games – and now he’s been asked to run a backline at international level. He did really well today. He looked threatening and kicked well at times.”

Murray also had words for praise for Afshar and fellow co-captain Liam McConnell’s leadership throughout the last season.

“They’ve been excellent all the way back through the Six Nations,” he said. “They’ve both got natural leadership ability, they work hard, they talk really well, and the players respect them and follow them which is always the sign of a good leader. What I’ve really liked seeing is that they will both challenge their team-mates and can strike that balance of putting their arm around a guy but poking him in the belly at the same time.

“One of the reasons we went for co-captains this year was use Ben’s leadership but also get Liam experience of it, so that when he comes back again next year he’s ready to go, and I think that’s worked really well for us.”

“Obviously everyone is pretty disappointed with the [overall] outcome [of this campaign]. We wanted to win this tournament. So, I’m sure the whole player development and performance pathway discussion will take place. There’s a lot of big things out there which need worked on and fixed. It’s not just about what happens at the under-20s, it’s about what happens underneath that level, its about our schools and our club game and our pathways.

“There’s loads of bits we constantly need to improve, and everyone has got a role within that.”

  • Spain beat Uruguay 39-32 in the tournament final later in the day meaning that they have qualified for next year’s Junior World Championship.


Teams –

Scotland: D King (M Reid. 60); K Johnston, B Salmon, F Thomson, F Douglas (W Robinson 55); A McLean, B Afshar (F Burgess 53); C Davidson (R Deans 53), C Tait (F Duraj 65), C Norrie (O Minnis 62), R Hart, J Parkinson, L McConnell, M Job (A Falconer 65), S Derrick (E Erskine 62).

Samoa: W Vesi; M Pasa, B Perese-Elliott, P Stanley; A Moleli (F Toetu 53), F Reti; C Langkilde, A Lui (P Faiga 53), R Robertson, J Samuela, M Schmidt (T Ripine 45), F Tanumoa (M Elato 45), C Tagoai, B Faavae.

Referee: R Kaluzniak


Scorers –

Scotland: Tries: Job 3, Tait 2, Afshar, Norrie 2, Johnston, Parkinson, Robinson, Falconer, Reid; Con: Afshar 5, King, McLean 3.

Samoa: Try: Tanumoa; Con: Moleli; Pen: Moleli.

Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 5-0; 10-0; 12-0; 17-0; 19-0; 19-5; 19-7; 24-7; 26-7;  26-10; 31-10; 33-10 (h-t) 38-10; 40-10; 45-10; 47-10; 52-10; 57-10; 59-10; 64-10; 66-10; 71-10; 76-10; 81-10; 83-10.



Yellow cards –

Scotland: Parkinson (24mins), Duraj (77mins)

Samoa: Tanumoa (28mins)

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About David Barnes 3817 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. The Samoan forwards were so poor, pushed about with ease and they barely won a line-out. Great for the boys to get the win, but that Samoan side would struggle to get a win in Nat 2.

    The galling thing is that Spain ended up winning the thing, yet Scotland totally outplayed them in their pre-tournament friendly. Just highlighted how badly things went at the tournament itself.

  2. Monroe Job actually scored 4 tries in this game…. His pats try was credited to Corey Tait by the commentator!!

    Best regards, Monroe’s Dad

  3. Well done lads.
    There’s nothing wrong with our junior players, they just don’t get the intensity of training or playing in the domestic game.

  4. Great come back from all the lads, must of been a good airing of views in there… so much to applaud this time attacking at pace and with variety… all that was missing from the pressure game… stay in this vein boys going forward not the other

  5. Nice pants, just a shame Uruguay took them down in the previous game. Atonement of sorts – uplifting for the lads and good for morale – but really there has to be some hard reflection because this result does not excuse what went on before. Third in the U-20s second-tier tournament is not where we want to end up if we want to remain a top-tier rugby nation in the eyes of the world. I sincerely hope that pasting the hapless Samoans is not used by the SRU as a fig leaf to cover its shameful embarrassment. Our boys deserve better and changes at HQ need to be made, pronto.

  6. one of the positives is that we have nearly a whole team eligible for next year already with experience at under 20 level, and another whole team of eligible players who already are experiencing super 6. so we should have a much more experienced side playing next year hopefully built around Norrie, Blyth Lafferty, McConnell, Yule and Douglas

    • Agree about the positive of availability, but that isn’t up to much if they don’t have game time of an appropriate standard and complimentary coaching, at least that’s my thought on the matter.
      Fingers crossed that the standard of the ‘Senior’ tournament gets some action from Roseburn Street otherwise as the song goes ‘There may be trouble ahead’.

  7. Well done to the lads after a chastening defeat by Uruguay. It will do their confidence a lot of good to finish with a big win. I know it doesnt change all the discussion points of the last few weeks but we need to remember that Samoa have been at the top level of U20 in the past themselves.

    And well done to Spain for winning the event and a chance to compete with the big boys next year. It is good for rugby to see other nations improving and getting their chance. Hopefully we can win this next year.

  8. Really pleased for the lads, BUT it doesn’t alter the problems that have been well covered in recent weeks. If only the Uruguay game had gone our way what might have been there didn’t seem to be much between Uruguay and Spain from the score line.

  9. Great way to finish the tournament.

    Period of reflection required to improve our U20 set up.


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