U18 Six Nations Festival: plucky Scotland come up short against Wales

Ross Miller's side fall short despite their most competitive performance of the campaign

Scotland Under-18s lost to Wales in their final Six Nations Festival match.
Scotland Under-18s lost to Wales in their final Six Nations Festival match.

Scotland 29

Wales 35

SCOTLAND’S  hopes of avoiding a blank results sheet in the 2023 Six Nations u18 Festival at the Energia Stadium in Dublin, were dashed by a Wales u18 side which, like the Scots, had come into the third and final round match having lost their previous two games.

Wales, by outscoring Scotland in the try count by 5-4, by displaying better game management in the second half and by maximising their scoring chances better than the young Scots, just merited their win but in truth a different result would not have been contentious.

In defeat Scotland can still take a lot of pride out of a performance that showed a willingness to run the ball and a desire to take on the Welsh forwards in the frontal phases of play. Ultimately though the outcome of the match came down to errors under pressure (on both sides) and the street-wise nous of Wales in closing out the game.

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But from a purely experiential point of view Scotland will have taken a lot out of a game in which they were certainly not outmuscled and in which, as a consequence, they were allowed to express their skills.

Once again there were very good performances from hooker Seb Stephen, flanker Freddy Douglas, prop Ollie Blythe-Lafferty and second-row Bart Godsell in the forward pack, but the Scots were undoubtedly weakened by the loss after only eight minutes of second-row Charlie Moss.

Behind the scrum, Matthew Urwin looked useful at stand-off, helped perhaps by operating alongside his St Aloysius team mate Johnny Ventisei, at inside-centre, who in his second season as an u18 international made his experience count.

Reflecting on the match, Scotland head coach, Ross Miller, suggested that Scotland had chances to win the game.

“We had loads of ball early on and created opportunities,” he said. “The pleasing thing was that we actually created opportunities. Wales were perhaps a bit more clinical than us and they were very direct around the attack areas. We played Wales five weeks ago so we knew it would be a close game again.

“There is positivity about the future,” he added. “A sizeable chunk of our squad are still under-17 so it was very good to be able to expose them to this environment.  They will be part of the squad we’ll take to Cardiff this summer to train with Italy, Wales and Ireland. We did a similar exercise last summer in Stirling when we trained with Italy and Wales.”


Scotland looked the stronger side in the early part of the match, winning the forward battle and moving the ball well, with players running into space rather than seeking collisions. It paid off after second row Godsell was put through a gap. The Gloucester man was able to pass the ball out of the tackle to Stephen, who had the power to reach the line for the opening try, converted by Jack Brown.

Skipper Brown added a first half penalty but by then momentum was shifting towards Wales, who produced stylish scores by winger Kodie Stone and full-back Scott Delnevo, plus two penalties and a conversion by stand-off Harri Wilde for a 18-10 interval advantage.

Scotland came out of the blocks with pace at the beginning of the second half and from the kick-off were rewarded with an instant score, a charged down kick by Ventisei that gave the centre a try converted by Brown.

Then, when the Welsh defence failed to gather, a skilfully placed cross-field kick by Urwin set up winger Sam Rockley for his side’s third try, putting Scotland into the lead once more with the scoreline at 22-18.

Tries by hooker Evan Wood and Steffan Emanuel, and a further conversion by Wilde, however, restored Wales’ eight points advantage only for Stephen to reduce the Welsh points advantage when the lively hooker exploded from a ruck to score his second and Scotland’s fourth try, converted by Brown.

Wales hit back with a try by prop Sam Scott to widen Wales winning margin to six points, a lead the men in red held for the remainder of the game by mature management of the game to deny the Scots any chance of staging a late comeback.


Teams –

Scotland:  J Brown CAPTAIN (George Watson’s College);  F Watson (Biggar RFC), T Russell (Stewart’s Melville College), J Ventisei (St Aloysius/GHA RFC), S Rockley (London Irish/Bishop Wand/London Irish Academy);  M Urwin (St Aloysius), H Alderson (Stewart’s Melville College); F Mcintosh (George Watson’s College), S Stephen (Glenalmond College/Aberdeen Grammar RFC),  K Ando (SC Frankfurt 1880/Sedbergh), B Godsell (Gloucester Academy/Marling), C Moss (Marlow Rugby/Shiplake College/Wasps), F Wilson (Gala RFC),  F Douglas (Stewart’s Melville College), F Wood (George Heriot’s School). Replacements:  O McKenna (St Aloysius),  M Kesson (Stirling County RFC), O Blyth-Lafferty (Boroughmuir RFC),  N Torkington (Stirling County RFC), F Spurway (Glenalmond College), O Duncan (Edinburgh Academy), H Patterson (Hawick RFC), I Coates (Merchiston Castle),, L McEwan-Peters (Yorkshire Academy/Wellington College), J Hocking (Edinburgh Rugby), S Leweni (Queen Victoria School)

Wales: S Delnevo; H Rees-Weldon, O Roberts, S Emanuel, K Stone;  H Wilde, O Paskell; I Emanuel, E Wood, E Say, N Thomas,  K Jenkins,  K Harris, H Beddall, K James Replacements S Hurley,  M Bignell,  S Scott, K Evans,  L Evans,  E Minto, J Pearce,  J Woods,  E Evans, I Duggan.

Referee: Richard Gordon (RFU)


Scorers –

Scotland: Tries: Stephen 2, Vintiesi, Rockley: Con: Brown 3; Pen: Brown.

Wales: Tries: Stone, Delverno, Wood, Emanuel, Scott; Con: Wilde 2; Pen: Wilde 2.

Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 5-0; 7-0; 10-0; 10-3; 10-8; 10-13; 10-15; 10-18 (h-t) 15-18; 17-18; 22-18; 22-23; 22-25; 22-30; 27-30; 29-30; 29-35


Yellow cards –

Scotland: Douglas

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About Alan Lorimer 360 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.


  1. Gotta say the ref, seemed red hot on taking our no7 out of the game, ensuring we were not allowed to compete on the tackle 🤷‍♂️ Once again plenty of chances to win it but the vital passes going to waste, for me it’s obvious there isn’t enough hard game time being played, it’s all very nicey nice training camps, just not quick enough at in game tactics. All round good efforts both winnable games we competed all the way, and but for amazing ball bounces both games could of been in the bag, these kids need to play not bounce around training camps… I’ve got to say I think the restarts were absolutely shocking, we hardly caught a ball and never treated to catch from our own kicks… this can only be big coaching errors as they are coachable set pieces. Interested to see what changes are introduced at coaching levels asI think players were let down in this respect 🤔 but can’t fault the boys efforts, no one left thinking the players didn’t give everything they had… and write off France it was like a under 18 V experienced under20s team.

  2. Not sure how Wales avoid a YC first half penalty count (where we should have kicked points) and then a marginal side entry pen is instant YC against Scotland. Both sides put in good shift. Both light years behind England and France.

  3. The very last thing you want to be known as is ‘plucky’. You might as well just hand out last place and give them a pat on the head.

    • I thought that they were better than ‘plucky’. Were the equal of Wales and on an other day would have won that, and were more than competitive against Ireland. Unfortunately were quite far off France.

    • Is there a problem being last? Losing is part of sport. The important thing is 1 taking part , 2 learning and 3 enjoying playing. One of the problems we have is always treating losing as failure. This maybe fine when you’re an adult at the top of the tree but not for youngsters who are trying their best. You want them all to carry on playing regardless of how good they maybe. The biggest lesson in adult rugby I ever learned was losing 69-6 to Hawick.

      • Whilst I appreciate the good intention of the message, I have found that the one thing that does kill the enjoyment of the players and does actually prevent them from carrying on playing is losing week in week out; and that applies to all levels. Players want to win competitive games.

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