U20 World Champs: Scotland give ‘Baby Blacks’ a run for their money

Carl Hogg's side recover from catastrophic start to secure a bonus point which could be crucial in play-off seedings

Robbie McCallum beats the tackle from Scott Gregory of New Zealand to score at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

New Zealand 52

Scotland 33

SCOTLAND put in one of their best performances against New Zealand but still ended up on the wrong end of the scoreline in their second round World u20 Championship match at the Racecourse Ground in Rosario. In all the young Scots scored five tries, their highest ever total for a Scotland age grade side against the ‘Baby Blacks’, in a display of running rugby, complemented by some trenchant defence in midfield, that will have won the dark blues many fans out-with their traditional following. 

However, the fact remains that New Zealand managed eight touchdowns, six of them converted, meaning they got the win. But in defeat Scotland secured a try bonus point, which in this championship, could yet prove to be important. The big negative for Scotland was the loss of their influential inside centre Robbie McCallum with a foot injury.

Scotland head coach, Carl Hogg, appreciates that his charges met the challenge posed by New Zealand but he knows too that his side needs to keep the foot on the gas. “We had to work really hard for our five tries but to go to the next level we have to make sure that we don’t give away soft tries,” he said. “At times we let the pressure valve off.”

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“We got in touching distance of New Zealand and could have come away with two bonus points. The performance today has given the boys huge confidence and we’re now looking forward to the game against Georgia next week. They will offer a different style. We can expect them to be very strong at the set-piece, so we’ve got to make sure our discipline is top drawer.”

Ultimately, a number of lapses and a catastrophic start to the game cost the Scots. Perhaps it is the reputation of the ‘Baby Blacks’, who, after all, have won the championship six times, and who look good for a seventh title, or perhaps it was the unfamiliarity of playing against Polynesian players, brought up in a hard school of rugby, but for whatever reason, the young Scots were caught in the headlights as they went behind 26-0 with tries from  prop Kaliopase Uluilakepa, New Zealand sevens cap Scott Gregory, powerhouse wing Lalomili Lalomilo, and centre Quinn Tupae, three of these converted by stand-off Ferg Burke.

And then … a remarkable turnaround as McCallum scored a gem of a try with a break from near the halfway line before showing running skills to beat two defenders.

Full-back Ollie Smith quickly added a second try after he ran a good line to take the scoring pass from Nathan Chamberlain, the latter adding the conversion points, leaving the Scots trailing 26-12 at the break.

Immediately after half time, Scotland struck again, this time from a set scrum with Chamberlain throwing a long cut-out pass to Rory McMichael, who put Smith in for the full back’s second try. Chamberlain supplied the extras to take the Scots within seven points of New Zealand.

Then a lapse of concentration as winger Lomond McPherson failed to take the restart kick and from the resultant possession New Zealand worked the ball wide for Lalomilo to grab his second try.

It was the first of a trio of second half scores for New Zealand, the others coming from replacement props Tamaiti Williams and Ollie Norris, both converted by Burke.

Scotland, however, rediscovered their earlier resolve and hit back with the bonus point try credited to Ewan Ashman, and converted by replacement stand-off Ross Thompson, who then contributed with an ‘on-the-money’ kick pass that put Jack Blain in for the Scots fifth try before kicking the conversion goal

The Scots pressed hard for the  score that would have brought another bonus point but an overthrow at a line-out in the New Zealand red zone allowed them to break out from their own 22, in a move which ended with second-row Taine Plumtree crashing over for his side’s eighth try, with Burke kicking his sixth conversion goal to complete the scoring.


Teams –

New Zealand:  S Gregory; L Lalomili, B Proctor, Q Tupaea, E Seturo; F Berke, T Funaki; G Dyer, S Klein, K Uluilakepa, T Plumtree, T Vaa’I, K Boshier, J Mua, S Parker  Substitutes used : K Kereru-Symes, O Norris, T Williams, C Grace, K Herbert, L Carter, R Reihana, L Fainga’anuku.

Scotland: O Smith; L MacPherson, R McMichael, R McCallum, J Blain; N Chamberlain, M Scott; A Nimmo, R Jackson, W Hurd, E Johnson, R Bundy, J Hill, T Leatherbarrow, K Van Niekerk.
Substitutes used: E Ashman, M Walker, M Wilson, C Henderson, M Sykes, R Thompson, G Hughes, C Anderson

Referee: Nika Amashukeli


Scorers –

New Zealand: Tries Uluilakepa, Gregory, Lalomilo 2, Tupea, Williams, Norris, Plumtree; Cons Burke 6.

Scotland: Tries McCallum, Smith 2, Blain, Ashman; Cons: Chamberlain 2, Thompson 2.

Scoring Sequence (New Zealand first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 21-0; 26-0; 26-5; 26-10; 26-12 (h-t) 26-17; 26-19; 31-19; 36-19; 38-19; 43-19; 45-19; 45-24; 45-26; 45-31; 45-33; 50-33; 52-33.

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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.