U20 World Trophy: 19-try Scotland blow away Samoa for record win in campaign opener

Crunch clash against Japan in final pool match on 12th July remains key

Scotland Under-20s kicked off their World Rugby Trophy campaign with a 19-try demolition of Samoa. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scotland Under-20s kicked off their World Rugby Trophy campaign with a 19-try demolition of Samoa. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk



ALAN LORIMER @ Hive Stadium

IT may have been a cool day at Hive Stadium, under the shadow of the national bowl at Murrayfield, but Scotland blew hotter than they have ever done by recording a World Rugby under-20 points total in their 19-try demolition of Samoa, in the opening round of the Trophy, beating the 105 figure set by Japan bizarrely only four hours earlier in their match against Hong Kong China, the Scots’ opponents in their next match on Sunday. 

All very satisfying,  but it is round three when Scotland play Japan that is already marked out as the tournament decider. Japan, relegated last year from the top-tier championship, were as clinical against Hong Kong as the Scots were against Samoa. Being able to score more points in their round one match may give Scotland a slight psychological edge over the Japanese, but whatever advantage they may have accrued, the Scots know that their round three match against Japan will be an entirely different beast.

After what has been a difficult two seasons for Scotland at under-20 level, the result and to a greater extent the scoreline was more than welcome for head coach, Kenny Murray, who had instilled in his charges the need to impose themselves early in the game.

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“I thought the boys were excellent,” said Murray. “Right from the start of the game we played the way we wanted to play  – we applied pressure and we were clinical. Then at half-time we spoke around turning the screw and not letting them off  –  and I think we did that.

“There are things we need to work on. We gave away a couple of soft tries and our goal-line D [defence] needs to be better. We defended well for long bits of the game. We were physical outfield, with some good turnovers and really good double hits but there were a couple of soft moments and that gives us something to work on.

“In the first half I thought our kick-off reception was excellent but in the second half we gave them a couple of easy retentions at kick-off, so a few things to work on.”

Murray was also satisfied that a number of the less experienced players in the squad rose to the occasion. “I spoke about Conor McAlpine before the game in terms of his character. He’s been out for a long time with an ACL injury. So he’s back playing and really talented.

Andrew McLean played well. I thought he showed his running ability as a 10. He’s not scared to attack the line and he’s got good gas. I thought the boys did well, as did the guys who came on … Hector Patterson as well. We gave Jack Hocking a run at 10 just to give him 10 minutes in case he has to cover there.”

The match marked a return to action for skipper Liam McConnell, who missed most of the Six Nations with an injury but who now looks back to form. “I was just trying to get on the ball as much as possible and make yards having been out for a wee while.  I played 20 minutes of a warm up game before this but this was my first game since the Six Nations and my ankle is feeling good,” stated the former Boroughmuir man.



Scotland wasted little time in taking charge of the game, exuding power in the scrums and playing with pace in the early minutes of the games and showing good ball retention forcing the South Sea islanders into a mode of continuous tackling.

Eventually the Scots’ pressure yielded points as Scotland attacked from a line-out maul, shipping the ball wide for McConnell to make the initial breech in the Samoan defence before Ryan Burke added the finishing touches with his side’s opening try.

Scotland’s forward power was again evident as the big men drove a penalty-created line-out from ten metres out to create a try for Jerry Blyth-Lafferty, this time successfully converted by McLean.

The Scots were on something of a roll, confirmation of which came when clever passing by the backs in which Fergus Watson was a key contributor ended with a close range try for McAlpine, McLean making the score a seven pointer for a 19-0 lead.

It was clear the home side were chasing the bonus try, their ambition realised after a scintillating try by McLean working a wrap-around move with centre Findlay Thomson.

McLean added the extras, again, and then, after a Samoan penalty goal by Panaua Niulevaea, the former Boroughmuir Bears’ playmaker repeated his kicking success by converting a try by Finlay Doyle, the wing showing good pace and clever footwork to scorch in for Scotland’s fifth try of the half to increase their lead to 31-3.

What was becoming a first half rout continued as Ollie Blyth-Lafferty celebrated his under-20s debut with a try, followed up by a second from Doyle, both converted by McLean.

Arguably the best of the first-half scores came from John Ventisei after Doyle had combined cleverly with McAlpine. McLean missed the conversion this time but was on target converting tries by Watson and Robbie Deans to send Scotland into the break with a barely believable 66-3 half time advantage.


There was no let up at the beginning of the second half as Jerry Blyth-Lafferty continued the flow of scores with his second of the evening. Doyle then completed his hat-trick quickly followed by a try from replacement second-row Ruaraidh Hart both touchdowns converted by McLean.

In between these two scores, Samoa were able to salvage some pride with a try from close range surges that ended with Totoa Auvaa bundling over.

The scoreboard once more moved quickly in Scotland’s favour after Watson ran in two tries, the second converted by McLean for a 97-8 lead, increased again after replacement front-row Callum Norrie crashed over leaving McLean with an easy kick.

A temporary lapse in defensive duties by Scotland allowed Samoa a second score and again it was second-row Auvaa who claimed the honours, Niulevaea supplying the conversion points.

But Scotland still had the energy and ambition to score more points, duly delivered with tries by McConnell, replacement centre Kerr Yule and replacement hooker Gavin Parry, McLean adding one further conversion and Hocking the final kick of the game to complete a historic record-breaking win for the Scots.


Teams –

Scotland: F Watson; F Doyle, J Ventisei, F Thomson (K Yule 52), G Gwynn (J Hocking 40); A McLean, C McAlpine (H Patterson 52); R Deans (B White 46), J Blyth-Lafferty (G Parry 46), O Blyth-Lafferty (C Norrie 46), E McVie (R Hart 46), R Burke, L McConnell, F Douglas, T Currie (J Morris 55).

Samoa: P Niulevaea; T Tavita, S Vaimauga, K Douglas, T Moors; A Popoalii, J Singh; H Hanipale, P Avito, S Ioelu, T Auvaa, H Faavae, J Fuimaono, T Ripine, B Faavae .

Referee: Katsuki Furuse (Japan)

Scorers –

Scotland: Tries Burke, J Blyth-Lafferty 2, McAlpine, McLean, Doyle 3, O Blyth-Lafferty, Ventesi, Watson 3, Deans, Hart, Norrie, McConnell, Yule, Parry; Cons: McLean 13, Hocking.

Samoa: Tries Auvaa 2; Con: Niulevaea; Pen: Niulevaea.

Scoring Sequence (Scotland first): 5-0; 10-0; 12-0; 17-0; 19-0; 24-0; 26-0; 26-3; 31-3; 33-3; 38-3; 40-3; 45-3; 47-3; 52-3; 57-3; 59-3; 64-3; 66-3 (h-t) 71-3; 76-3; 78-3; 78-8; 83-8; 85-8; 90-8; 95-8; 97-8; 102-8; 104-8; 104-13; 104-15; 109-15; 111-15; 116-15; 121-15; 123-15.

Yellow cards –

Samoa: Douglas (19 mins)

Man-of-the-Match: Scotland’s forward power created the means for the backs to show their running ability but it was the control at stand-off that really mattered in which context Andy McLean put on an impressive show that will give him confidence going forward in this tournament.

Talking point: It’s worth recalling that Scotland defeated Samoa 83-10 in last season’s under20 Trophy tournament played at altitude in Nairobi. So this scoreline was perhaps not the surprise it might seem. All the same, to score 123 points in a match is prodigious and for now has put Scotland top of the table in terms of total points scored in an under-20 international. Quite some achievement after a miserable two years and well done to this current squad of players. But a descent from this heady height will be necessary as Scotland prepare for their shoot-out with Japan on 12th July. Not one to miss.

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About Alan Lorimer 370 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. For goodness sake good players play well against good sides not just sides that leak 100 points

    Every player looked good out there yesterday
    Let’s not get carried away ,
    It was at best a training run ,

  2. Great result for the young lads and hopefully it will give them self-belief for the games ahead, not just in this tournament but beyond. Almost embarrassing the way the Samoans were outrun, outplayed and shunted all over the park at will by our scrum – if only it were like that in real life! The phony war will continue against an equally weak Hong Kong – sorry Hong Kong China – and we know the real test comes against Japan. That match will show to measure the extent of progress and whether our boys can take it as well as dish it out. Impressive performances all round, but it was Freddy Douglas who caught my eye with his barnstorming runs, while his impression of a small scavenging African dog to win ball in the loose would have gained praise indeed from Darge and Ritchie. It can’t be too long before he breaks into an Edinburgh matchday squad. Finlay Doyle was impressive on the wing, while with an eye to the future we may have hope at ten and at tight head – two positions that will badly need bolstering when these fellas grow to full maturity. I do of course spare a thought for the Samoans, who at least scored a brace But it’s a heck of a long way to travel only to take such a terrible hiding at the end of it. Absolutely brutal.

    • There were results like that in the early World Cup matches, so I hope it’s part of the growing process for Samoa, who probably don’t get much chance to play at all.

  3. You can only play etc. but still worrying that Mr Murray spoke as if we’d beaten France instead of the equivalent of a training run against a decent school team, who didn’t even have the right kit. Still waiting for some humility and a sign that reality not delusion is the byword on that team. Anecdotally, some of the lads also , to be kind, lack humility. Let’s get feet on the ground, get out of the diddy tournament and make actions speak for us against the better nations.

    • Doubtful if they were the level of a decent school team. Many lacked pace and any tackling ability. Didn’t see any interviews, but if KM was talking that up as a measure of improvement he’s grasping at straws. If/when Scotland win it, then claims of improvement can justifiably be made.

    • Murray spoke rationally, no OTT stuff and pointed out the 2 glaring areas they need to improve significantly

  4. Well done to all the players & staff. An excellent performance & result, which will give a timely boost to their confidence. The starting forward pack was impressive & would certainly hold their own against any of the top U20 teams. Liam McConnell showed his class & leadership, & how he was badly missed when out injured. Although there were many outstanding performances, Robbie Deans is someone who stands out for me but normally doesn’t get much of a mention. His scrummaging prowess & mobility/ speed is excellent & was very visible in this game. The backline also performed extremely well though McLean, with the question that must be asked being why his selection hasn’t happened before now, especially when a non-SQ player was being fielded instead! But this was only one excellent result & will be undone if the team can’t replicate the winning performance to the end of the competition.

    • That was McLean’s 5th start for Scotland U20s, think Coates also have 5 starts, so he’s getting chances. My question would be why he’s not in Glasgow’s academy.

    • The same pack that was humiliated in set piece during 6n just few months back, often against 2nd xvs??? Think you’re reading far too much into a reasonable display against a shambles that couldn’t organise their kit.

  5. Well done to the boys. Great result although there will be tougher assignments ahead.
    The scorelines do call into question the tournament structure though as they were both runaway victories. Maybe the world tournament should be structured as an 8 team World Cup with two pools of 4 (e.g. England, Ireland, France, Italy, NZ, SA, AUS and Argentina) and a Trophy (e.g. Wales, Scotland, Georgia, Spain, Uruguay, USA, Fiji, Japan). We could either have another 8 team comp below that (Samoa, Tonga, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Chile) or go for regional comps with some sort of play off to get back up to the trophy.
    Realistically Scotland would be near the top of the trophy or yo-yo up and down but I think that would provide more even games overall. Plus we’d still get the 6 nations to play some of the top tier for exposure to what top level u20s looks like.

  6. This was an outstanding professional performance and Scotland deserve every credit. McLean at 10 had a terrific game so it must be asked why he didn’t play more in the 6N especially when Coates isn’t eligible. Bizarre. Forwards scrummaged well, offloaded effectively and secured good line out ball. This will be a real
    Confidence builder for the Japan game and players and coaches should be applauded for their preparation and performance.
    Why this tournament has not been promoted more is beyond me
    and why schools haven’t been offered tickets is a shambles of the marketing. Anyway, carry on the good work Scotland!

    • Said several times during the 6 Nations that I couldn’t understand why Andy McLean wasn’t getting a game. Saw him playing several times for Glasgow Hawks aged 18, today was his usual level of performance. From that Hawks side Davey and Darroch were also starting in the Prem aged 18 – all putting in man of the match performances during the season. Don’t know why all three aren’t involved.

      • I’m sure Darroch has chosen another country and I think Davey may have missed the age of no longer qualifying but could be wrong.

        • Heard that Darroch had been watched by Kenny Murray in a Prem game, got Man of the Match, but didn’t even get called in to have a look at him in training, much to the surprise of Hawks coaches. Thought all three were the same age, so think Davey is still eligible, but not 100% sure.

            • Davey was in the 6 nations squad this year and got a couple of games off the bench. Maybe hes injured, although to be honest there are quite a few 9s the same age, who have all put their hand up for selection, and unfortunately not everyone can make the squad.

        • Wanted 100% to play for Scotland, but didn’t get a call-up, in spite of finishing the top try scorer for Glasgow Hawks aged 18. Another country stepped in with an all expenses paid trip to join their squad, and the offer of a 3 year pro contract (which wasn’t taken up). Still eligible for Scotland though.

      • Could be an interesting line up in club rugby next year with a couple of players mentioned in previous replies, watch this space. Maybe Kenny Murray will need to visit some different clubs on scouting missions.

        • Pretty certain that some of the best young players will struggle to get 1st XV rugby in the Prem, given the filtering down of players from Super 6. Likely to see some appearing in National Leagues.

    • Are schools not off by now? Still a fair point though tickets could have been distributed before end of term. Suspect that SRU are a bit embarrassed that u20s are having to host this because they wouldn’t qualify for it otherwise.

  7. Something badly amiss with a qualification process that allows 100 PT mis matches. That’s bordering on dangerous and there was possibly an argument for uncontested scrums. It’s a poor look for World Rugby when one team can’t even organise having their own kit. I would question if some of those Samoan lads would pass the strength tests for u18 let alone u20 players. That isn’t on the Scots (as mentioned can only play what’s in from of them) but World Rugby needs to ensure that this doesn’t descend into a shambles.

    • Makes it all the stranger OBL wasn’t allowed to play in the 6N although appreciate the age 18 is a in/out guide.

    • Its not really about qualification process – these are the 2nd tier U20 Nations and its simply a reflection of the huge range of abilities at this level. Samoa have played in the top tier in the past. There aren’t that many nations that play at this level and sadly some are just miles of the pace. Spain managed to come out of this event last year and are playing with the big boys now and look likely to return hopefully replaced by Scotland. It certainly doesnt really do our guys any good scoring 100 points against some sides.

  8. A very good performance from Scotland against a poor Samoa side. These boys have worked hard and deserve some rewards. Hopefully it builds their confidence for the tougher tasks ahead against Japan etc. Would be good to see the rest of the squad get an opportunity in the next game. Some good prospects among these lads – Watson, McConnell, Douglas, OBL

  9. You can only play what’s in front of you but it was like men against boys and i did feel sorry for the Samoans at times. Scotland were all action, forwards and backs with some great flowing rugby and completely overpowered Samoa. It looks like Japan will be half decent as they score 100 as well so should be a much sterner test. I think we have Hong Kong next who leaked the 100 and will be totally outclassed so a chance to give everyone some game time.

  10. Clear for all to see that time spent in Super Series has really helped these boys develop both individually and collectively. Doubt the nay sayers and aye beens won’t see it that way though.

    • All have improved, as you’d expect given they are working hard to do so. The game itself should be good for confidence, but was no test at all. I’d doubt that Samoa would do particularly well in Nat 4.

      Japan the first meaningful test. The Scotland forwards should be too strong for them…

    • Clear to see the boys were playing a very poor side who didn’t even have proper kit. Doubt the (Not So) Super Six one-eyed cheerleaders will see it that way though.

      • I once saw a Fijian 7s side turn up with no boots and run rings around the best of the home nations, not too sure the relevance of the kit standard on the match result? However, that was back in the days of amateur rugby which is where the nay sayers want to drag us back to so it may well become the norm again cheers

        • It’s an indication of how prepared a team are not-so Keen Observer. I have seen many teams turn up without proper kit and hopelessly under-prepared like Samoa and all got well thumped. If you think that a win like this proves anything about not-so S6 then you are totally deluded.

  11. Watching a Scotland pack shunt an opposition 8 back to the point that they were accelerating in reverse and the difficulty was in controlling the ball we’d won against the head – that is a rare and glorious sight

  12. Two ridiculous scorelines that should worry World Rugby. Clearly Hong Kong and Samoa are not operating at this level , unsurprisingly so given their player base and resources. Obviously likely to be a complete mismatch again when Scotland play Hong Kong? What value is there for either team in fixtures like these ?
    Mr Murray suggests his team “ played the way they wanted to play” which is somewhat stating the obvious in what at times looked like an uncontested training run. From the perspective of a competitive rugby spectacle this was a thoroughly disappointing watch.
    Not much the Scottish boys can do about the quality they face but given the players in their squad who have had significant exposure at U20 level , has this squad peaked to soon in that many of this squad are at the older end of the age group and will not be eligible for the proper tournament next year ( should they gain promotion) and we run the risk of ending up back in the same position with a group of unseasoned youngsters thrown in at the deep end again …

    • They’ve got to qualify for the u20 championship yet! Our group might be fairly soft but Japan will be a threat and Uruguay beat us last year so…

  13. Watched most of the game and turned off after 50 mins. Felt really sorry for the Samoa lads. Scotland looked a class above and the samoas looked lost. I hope they have some better games ahead.

    • It pleased those who get satisfaction from seeing hopelessly underprepared lads getting bullied. No reasonable person could take pleasure in a game like this.


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