Men’s U18 6Ns Festival: Scotland get off to a winning start against Georgia

Skipper Joe Roberts and tight-head prop Ollie Blyth Lafferty lead from the front at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma

Scotland' s Joe Roberts on his way to the line during aagainst Georgia in the Stadio Lanfranchi in Parm. Image: Federico Zovadelli/Actionpress
Scotland' s Joe Roberts on his way to the line during aagainst Georgia in the Stadio Lanfranchi in Parm. Image: Federico Zovadelli/Actionpress

Georgia 14

Scotland 22

SCOTLAND made a winning start to their Six Nations U18 Festival campaign at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma by defeating new entrants Georgia with a performance that contained some excellent handling skills, clever invention and enterprise in attack and rugged resistance in defence against physical opponents.

Victory was psychologically important for Scotland age-grade rugby following a torrid set of results in this season’s Six Nations U20 Championship, although it has to be said that at U18 level Scotland have performed reasonably well in recent seasons, suggesting that it is the jump between the two age categories that is proving problematic.

Crucially, Scotland’s forwards stood up well to the traditional scrummaging strength of Georgian rugby, the mighty presence of Ollie Blyth-Lafferty being crucial in this set-piece area. But plaudits must go to skipper Joe Roberts at hooker for an all-round display that helped in so much of Scotland’s go-forward play.


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Behind the scrum, Hamish MacArthur was lively at scrum-half during his first half appearance while at stand-off both Ross Wolfenden and his replacement Henry Armstrong impressed. Scotland also had solidity in midfield where the centre pairing of Campbell Waugh and Nicky Thompson kept their opponents in check while also delivering good ball for lively wings Nairn Moncrieff and Sam Leweni. 

Speaking after the match, Scotland head coach Ross Miller praised his charges for coming back after trailing Georgia in the second half.

“I thought the boys showed real character in coming through the game,” he said. “We spoke about trying to manage the game under the pressure of international rugby and I thought they did well to manage the last part of the game.

“A fair few teams have fallen on the Georgian sword over the years. They’re no mugs. Individually I thought Ollie Blyth-Lafferty did very well but overall the front-five stepped up physically in terms of set-piece play. Their strength in the games we’ve seen is up front. I thought too our centres defended well. They’re a good combination and have an understanding from their Glasgow Warriors games together.”

Scotland made their intentions clear in the opening exchanges, moving the ball wide whenever possible and matching the physicality of the young Georgians with determined force.

The Scots’ early pressure began to tell on the Georgians who conceded three successive penalties, the third of these giving Scotland the chance to kick to the corner. Then from the ensuing line-out, Scotland set up a driving maul to produce a try for skipper Roberts, playing his second season at this level.

Scotland’s use of the ball and clever inter-passing between backs and forwards was proving effective and had its reward when they struck decisively for a second time in the match with a try by Moncrieff, taking an inside pass from flanker Rory Purvis after a powerful drive by Roberts.

Peebles stand-off Wolfenden’s second conversion attempt from wide out was accurate, putting his side 12-0 ahead. But if Scotland thought they were opening up a significant gap then this notion was erased when Georgia hit back with a powerful midfield run and then a try-line finish from loose-head prop Archil Nozadze, converted by Gigi Sirbiladze, leaving the Eastern Europeans trailing 7-12 at the break.

 

 

With momentum behind them, Georgia piled on the pressure at the beginning of the second half, and took the lead for the first and only time in the match with a penalty try after Harry Stewart was harshly punished for a side entry while trying to stop a moving maul on the Scots’ line, earning the back-row a yellow card.

The lead was short-lived as Scotland, despite being a man down,  returned to attacking mode and when Georgia conceded a penalty in front of the posts Wolfenden put his side ahead by a single point with the simple kick.

Scotland brought on the Morrison’s Academy stand-off Armstrong, who, after settling into the game, made a match winning contribution with a chip ahead and then a soccer-style flick of the ball that gave wing Leweni enough room to squeeze in at the corner.

From the touchline replacement full-back Harry Provan struck his conversion attempt sweetly to put Scotland two scores ahead.

Despite a strong effort by Georgia, the young Scots were able to maintain the eight point margin to seal an important win and lift confidence ahead of the next match on Wednesday against England.

 

Teams –

Georgia: N Khalvashi; G Kipshidze, I Basilaia, D Barbakadze, D Akshvlediani; G Sirbiladze, T Dzodzuashvili; A Nozadze, A Shvelidze, G Turashvili, D Baramia, N Chkhortolia, L Gabunia, L Saghinadze, M Shioshvili. Replacements: D Archvadze, K Ezieshvili, N Kumaritovi, G Meparishvili, I Kvaratskhelia, D Tsiklauri, L Tvauri, S Sharvashidze, L Saldadze, G Ardzenadze, T Toradze.

Scotland: E Southworth (Hartpury College/Harlequins); S Leweni (Watsonians/Glasgow Warriors), C Waugh (Hutchesons’ GS/Glasgow Warriors), N Thompson (Sedburgh College/Glasgow Warriors), N Moncrieff (Gala/Edinburgh Rugby); R Wolfenden (Peebles HS/Edinburgh Rugby), H MacArthur (Merchiston Castle School/Edinburgh Rugby); L Hodge (Highland/Glasgow Warriors), J Roberts (Robert Gordon’s College/Dundee RFC/Glasgow Warriors), O Blyth-Lafferty (Currie Chieftains/Edinburgh Rugby), C Lindsay (Loretto School/Edinburgh Rugby), D Halkon (RGS Worcester/Midlands Rugby Academy), R Purvis (Dollar Academy/Glasgow Warriors), H Blackie (Morrison’s Academy/Glasgow Warriors), H Stewart (Kelvinside Academy/Biggar/Glasgow Warriors).  Replacements (all in second half): B Curtis (Howe fo Fife/Glasgow Warriors) for MacArthur, H Provan (High School of Glasgow/Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Warriors) for Southworth, W Pearce (Collegiate School/Bristol Bears) for Hodge, H Armstrong (Morrison’s Academy/Glasgow Warriors) for Wolfenden,  S Byrd (Rugby School/Leicester Tigers) for Stewart, M Rutherford (Gala RFC/Edinburgh Rugby) for Halkon, M Kesson (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors) for Blyth-Lafferty.

 

Scorers –

Georgia: Tries: Nozadze, Penalty Try; Con: Sirbiladze.

Scotland: Tries: Roberts, Moncrieff, Lewini; Con: Wolfenden, Provan; Pen: Wolfenden.

Scoring Sequence (Georgia first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12; 5-12; 7-12 (h-t) 14-12; 14-15; 14-20; 14-22.

 

Yellow cards –

Scotland: Stewart (42 mins)


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About Alan Lorimer 352 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.

10 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this game. There will be people who say we should be winning that game by more. But this game in context of Dodsons regime is a really big positive for the future of Scottish rugby.

    There was loads of really good looking rugby and from both sides. Georgia definitely didn’t get the advantage in the scrum but still looked today enough.

    Credit where credits due, Scotland are renowned at all levels for fluffing the first games of tournament so for this age grade it’s encouraging.

    Agree with the comments about the previous u18 group looking this good too and something not quite being up to speed in the period between that and u20s compared to rivals.

    Time will tell if there’s a new era coming.

  2. Promising performance. Scrappy but some great rugby in there too. Thought some of the subs looked out of their depth and have done in previous outings but still picked. Will be interesting to see how many of this pack progress to U20

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    • I’m struggling as to what subs you are talking about that were out of their depth? Also in what previous games has this also been the case? No 16, McKenna is a regular starter and looked sharp and keen. No 17, Pearce was big, strong and able. No 18, Kesson didn’t get enough time to show what he’s capable of. No 19, Rutherford did the job just grand. No 20 Byrd, every bit as capable. No 22, Curtis and No 23 Armstrong, looked every bit as good as the 9 and 10 they replaced and No 26, Provan, also a regular starter didn’t get a chance to show how devastating he can be in attack.

      I’m not saying they were perfect, but why so negative?

      • I actually thought it was our depth and subs that allowed us to pull clear. Armstrong with that clever little kick to set up Leweni in particular and Provan getting the difficult conversion.

      • My observation of this and previous games. My opinion which im allowed. Not about to name names

  3. Promising performance. Scrappy but some great rugby in there too. Thought some of the subs looked out of their depth and have done in previous outings but still picked. Will be interesting to see how many of this pack progress to U20

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  4. Solid win against a big physical side. Tried hard to move the ball wide and looked pretty effective. Another big physical challenge coming up against England. Well done boys.

  5. Excellent all-round display by the team, including the replacements. The Scottish pack dominated in the scrum, & against a team who pride themselves in their scrummaging ability & being able to destroy other teams. This provided a very good foundation for the backs to work from, both in offence & defence. It would be interesting to see the result if this Scottish U18 team was to play the Scottish U20 team!

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    • I think the U20s would win. When the current U20 played U18s six nations they looked good too, comfortable win over Italy, tigh loss to England and a loss to france (but did manage to win the second half). As the article says, it’s the period between U18s and U20s where things go wrong.

      Just an amendment to the article, it was Nicky Thompson at 12. Jamie Thomson was on the bench.

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    • Promising performance. Scrappy but some great rugby in there too. Thought some of the subs looked out of their depth and have done in previous outings but still picked. Will be interesting to see how many of this pack progress to U20

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