SCOTLAND put in a competitive performance against a strong Ireland side in the opening round of the Six Nations under-18 Festival at the Energia Stadium at Donnybrook, Dublin, but two costly tries towards the end of each half were decisive and ultimately led to a 34-20 defeat.
The young Scots actually led 10-7 after 14 mins of the first half having made a good start to the game with trenchant forward play, solid defence and some enterprising back moves.
Scotland head coach Ross Miller praised his side for delivering a strong, if not a winning, performance. He said: “I was very pleased with our start. We created lots of opportunities but weren’t able to finish them off. I thought that we were effective in attack.
“We played against a very good Ireland side with the majority of their players coming from schools around Dublin. It’s a strong Leinster connection. For our boys, it was a great experience playing in front of a vociferous crowd.”
Amongst the strong performers for the Scots were hooker Joe Roberts from Robert Gordon’s College, who is still under-17, and scrum-half Hector Patterson from Hawick. “Hector’s had a great season with Premiership champions Hawick and that has given him valuable experience and confidence,” stated Miller.
Others to catch the eye were the Merchiston stand-off Isaac Coates , the George Watson’s College full-back Jack Brown and the Boroughmuir tight-head prop Ollie Blyth-Lafferty, whose brother Jerry played for the under-18s last season before progressing to the Scotland under-20 team during the recent Six Nations.
Scotland trailed 22-10 at half-time having scored their points from a try by Patterson – the scrum half selling an outrageous dummy close to the line – and Brown who kicked a conversion and a penalty goal.
Then, in the second half, the industrious Edinburgh Academy back-row Ollie Duncan bagged Scotland’s second try, with Brown, who had also kicked a second penalty goal, again successful with the conversion to give the skipper a ten points tally for the match.
The Scots now have four days to recover before facing France next Wednesday in the second of their three matches in the Festival.
France will be on a high after starting their campaign with a win over England, 23-22, in a thrilling encounter featuring three-tries apiece from the two sides, one of the England touchdowns coming from flanker Reuben Logan, whose dad Kenny played for Scotland 70 times between 1992 and 2003, and whose mum Gabby knows a bit about rugby, too.
Scotland U18: J Brown CAPTAIN (George Watson’s College); F Watson (Biggar RFC), J Ventisei (St Aloysius/GHA RFC), L McEwan-Peters (Yorkshire Academy/Wellington College), S Rockley (London Irish/Bishop Wand/London Irish Academy); I Coates (Merchiston Castle), H Patterson (Hawick RFC); B White (Peebles RFC), J Roberts (Robert Gordon’s College), O Blyth-Lafferty (Boroughmuir RFC), F Wilson (Gala RFC), C Moss (Marlow Rugby/Shiplake College/Wasps),
O Duncan (Edinburgh Academy), F Douglas (Stewart’s Melville College),
F Spurway (Glenalmond College).
Replacements: S Stephen (Glenalmond College/Aberdeen Grammar RFC), F Mcintosh (George Watson’s College), Keita Ando (SC Frankfurt 1880/Sedbergh), B Godsell (Gloucester Academy/Marling), N Torkington (Stirling County RFC), F Wood (George Heriot’s School), H Alderson (Stewart’s Melville College), M Urwin (St Aloysius), J Hocking (Edinburgh Rugby), T Russell (Stewarts Melville College), S Leweni (Queen Victoria School).