U20s 6N: frustration as young Scots suffer second defeat of campaign

Kenny Murray's side surrender the 10-0 lead they had established early in the second half

Scotland captain Rhys Tait tackled by Benji Williams of Wales. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scotland captain Rhys Tait tackled by Benji Williams of Wales. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Wales 26

Scotland 13

DAVID BARNES @ Stadiwm Zip World

FRUSTRATION – again – for Kenny Murray’s young Scots, as they failed to fortify a 10 point lead established at the start of  the second half, and conceded three tries in the final 12 minutes to hand their opponents a bonus-point to go with a win which was much more comprehensive than it really should have been.

With Italy picking up a 6-0 win over England, the Scots are now the only winless team in the championship, and they face an uphill battle to avoid back-to-back Six Nations whitewashes.

“We turned round 7-0 up, but we left a few chances out there in the first half, I was disappointed with that,” sighed head coach Murray afterwards. “In the second half, we started well, but in the end it was a bit similar to last week [when Scotland lost their opening match of this Six Nations campaign at home against England]. Winning at half-time, we score straight after half-time, but then we struggled at the breakdown where they were really aggressive.

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“We struggled with our speed to contact and gave away a couple of soft tries through poor tackling, and then we beat ourselves a bit from an exit. We just didn’t exit effectively and they scored from it. It’s a massive learning that when you play international rugby you’ve got to get the small things right.”

Scotland passed up an early opportunity to draw first blood when a Christian Townsend penalty attempt sailed wide of the posts, but they kept their focus and took the lead on 15 minutes when hard-working No 8 att Deehan burrowed over from close range for a converted score.

However, the visitors struggled thereafter for possession and did well to manage their defence so that their try-line was never really under serious threat during the remainder of the first half, although they did ride their luck a little when home stand-off Jac Lloyd fired a not-rolling-away penalty from 25-yards out and almost directly in front of the posts into the woodwork on the stroke of half-time.

Full-back Robin Mc Lintock’s successful penalty early in the second half stretched Scotland’s advantage to 10 points, but Wales bounced back when Alex Mann did well to collect fellow back-rower Tom Cowan’s offload with his fingertips at knee level on his way to the line.

Scotland seemed rattled for a while, struggling to cope with the swirling wind, but Welsh indiscipline helped them work their way back into the game, and a not-releasing penalty conceded by the hosts offered Mc Lintock an opportunity to show the range of that mighty left boot with an excellent kick from just inside the Welsh half.

But that was as good as it got for the Scots, and they fell behind on 68 minutes when an overthrown line-out handed Wales possession deep inside the Scottish 22, and Joe Hawkins hit a great line at pace to claim the home team’s second try, which Morgan Lloyd converted

Right wing Harri Houston took the game beyond Scotland’s reach when he finished well in the corner on 74 minutes, and the bonus-point was secured in the final minute by replacement back-row Morgan Morse.

“They’re learning as they go along through this programme but at the same time I think there are parts of our game and game-management we should be better at,” concluded Murray. “We know our exits, we plan them, we run them, but tonight we don’t exit well and they score a try from it. That’s a learning for those boys.”

“It’s fixable, but it’s just frustrating because that’s two games now where we’ve been leading at half-time and not managed to kill a team off. The boys have a lot of learning and work to do in the next few weeks. It’s things we can definfiely improve, but I’m a bit disappointed and frustrated.”

Teams –

Wales: C Winnett; H Houston, E James (J Westwood 71), J Hawkins, O Andrew; J Lloyd (D Edwards 66), A Hughes (M Lloyd 66); R Barratt ( J Cowell 68), E Daniel (M Veness, 63), A Williams (E Fackrell 76), B Williams, R Woodman (L Jones 76), T Cowan  (M Morse 77), E Fackrell, A Mann.

Scotland: R Mc Clintock; R McKnight, D Munn, A Stirrat (E Cunningham 76), O Melville; C Townsend , M Redpath (J Cope 72); M Jones (A Rogers 63), P Harrison (G Hiddleston 69(, G Scougall (C Norrie 49), J Taylor, M Williamson O Oguntibeju (J Spurway 68), R Tait, M Deehan (R Gordon 49).

Referee: Sara Cox (England)


Scorers –

Wales: Try: Mann, Hawkins, Houston Morse; Con: Lloyd, D Edwards 2.

Scotland: Tries: Deehan; Con: Townsend; Pen: Mc Lintock 2.

Scoring sequence (Wales first): 0-5; 0-7 (h-t) 0-10; 5-10; 7-10; 7-13; 12-13; 14-13; 19-13; 24-13; 26-13.

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About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. It would help if the Super 6 players actually played some rugby during the season. 10 league games and one play off match. That is just not enough. Hardly surprising they are not strong enough mentally or physically.
    Ultimately not sure what the point of Scotland U20s is as they won’t get picked for the big team ahead of foreign players with Scottish grannies.

  2. Even if they played in all the S6 games how many is that ? Not enough! Why not get more Edinburgh teams in it around the Merchiston area as that is the centre of Scottish rugby.

    • Edinburgh’s private schools Definitely not the centre of rugby in Scotland…..
      Dodson will be down in Wales for a freebie.
      His vision of Super 6 is not the answer .
      putting money into grass roots is .
      As Italy have been doing for a few years now …..and it’s coming to fruition .last night they ended Englands domination with a well deserved win

    • Edinburgh’s private schools Definitely not the centre of rugby in Scotland…..
      Dodson will be down in Wales for a freebie.
      His vision of Super 6 is not the answer .
      putting money into grass roots is .
      As Italy have been doing for a few years now …..and it’s coming to fruition .last night they ended Englands domination with a well deserved win

  3. In response to Johnny B and Paul Justice, and no doubt others questioning the level of quality game exposure. As an observation as much as anything else, whereas I am unsure the status and standard of some of the clubs the players in the U20 set up at least I do know the standard at Ealing where a couple of the U20 that were on the field yesterday play, Ealing are at present ‘topping’ for the third or fourth season the Green King Championship making them arguably and consistently the 15th ranked professional club in the top two leagues in England.
    David Barnes in an article posted 5th of November last mentioned that London Scottish were hoping to join the Super 8 [6 as is I presume] in 2022/23 and I will be interested to see if that happens how well they do.
    As an example London Scottish are also in the Green King Championship unfortunately at the bottom and opposite end to Ealing having lost 13 out of 15 the other two results a draw and a win.
    Looking at the Team sheet for the U20’s many of the players seem to be attached to either Super 6 clubs or with either Edinburgh or Glasgow in some capacity, but as regards the standard from the few games I saw televised from the Super 6 the standard is a bit ‘patchy’ and perhaps the Super6 or 8 isn’t the way to go in the long term or even the short one.
    Are the participant Clubs in the Super 6 the 6 best club sides after Edinburgh and Glasgow? From a distance it all looks a bit ‘cobbled’ together and I can’t help feeling that there needs to be some common purpose between the Clubs and the SRU that doesn’t appear to be there at the moment.

    • George English Championship is a good level but not many of our players are playing that level regularly (which would be Super 6).
      Compare even to Italy where most of their players are in the top 12 which is a professional league.
      It’s probably a higher standard than u20 international rugby. At least comparable to.

    • George – in recent seasons the once-fertile ranks of the historically-great London Scottish have provided Scottish rugby with little or nothing in terms of a conveyor belt of talented young players.

      From what I could make out when I looked in a month or two back, the Richmond-based club without a home ground to call its own boasts only a small handful of SQ players within its struggling squad.

      • If you look at Wales and Ireland their young players both come through a goldfish bowl.
        The Welsh obviously S Wales were rugby is the major sporting interest and the Irish their provincial Schools cups (especially Leinster).
        I think it makes a difference.

        Difficult to emulate, it takes time and investment.

      • London Scottish are subject to eqp and let’s be honest salaries are tiny.
        No fringe pro team player will go there, it’s financially unviable without family support or another job.
        By tiny I mean less than minimum wage for a part timer.
        Loads of Scotland (and England) players started their pro careers in the championship but they had nearby family, other jobs, were ‘travelling’ or were quickly picked up by better paying clubs etc.
        Intended or not it’s really a nursery for people who are local to the clubs and that’s not many Scots. The pay is pocket money.

  4. The Italians thoroughly deserved their result last night and the Italians are doing exactly what the French have been doing and that is allocating huge resources and effort into their age grade rugby. The French decided to stop using nationalised players or as we refer to as project players and invested in their age grade and they are now sowing the seeds of what they planted with the target of winning their home senior world cup. We are spending a lot of money in bringing in southern hemisphere players with no absolutely no Scottish connections and the Super 6 was set up to bring even more over at a younger age and use it as a testing ground for potential pro and then national players. The SRU abuse the dreams of home bred Scottish players. I would rather lose as a team of genuine Scotsmen and Scotswomen than have our famous jersey being used as a jersey of convenience for players who do not make the grade in their own countries. Duhan VDM is a great player but he played against Scotland at age grade level and as far as I am concerned he has made his commitment to SA but comes here qualifies sticks two fingers up at us by signing for Worcester then goes on the Lions tour to play against the self same players he played with at U20. It is obvious that many don’t agree and are happy just to see Scotland winning but then again the majority of those who go to Murrayfield are not even involved in grass roots rugby and are just having the annual days out to Murrayfield. The new law changes could end up with the with the Vunipola brothers playing againstEngland in the not too distant future. What a mess

    • Jan makes a reasonable comment, a comment that in truth was, well the truth in as much as a representative side for a country should be represented by those that qualify through place of birth or accepted anticedant parental qualification and not a ‘have boots will travel’ philosophy, even the ‘Grannie qualification is preferable to that.
      I know that approach if it had been in place would have lost the services of several residency players, however much as I have appreciated their contribution to Scotland’s recent improvements, on a personal level I can’t in all honesty say that I approve of the system even though many better off Nations in player depth do it, so why shouldn’t we is the understandable Mantra from some quarters.
      My first thought about qualification on residency was placed, erroneously as it happened, at the door of the change from Amateur to Professional Rugby: wrong, as an excellent article on the matter in the Irish times by Matt Williams [Sept 9 2019] informed me it is a hangover from the amateur days and not as I thought some pre-emptive move from World Rugby or Unions to avoid a threatened restrictive trade practice law-suit that came into being by the game going Professional at the top level.
      Much as I appreciate watching VDM on one of his charging runs it does in truth take the shine of any success he gives to the International game, how can it be otherwise? Do we get more satisfaction observing a try by Darcy Graham, to be honest I don’t, but on reflection it does leave the question hanging over the game, could we have done it without the residency players? I think on some days of course but even with them we frequently fail to perform and to a degree last Saturday in Cardiff was a perfect example.
      Unless I am mistaken there is now a suggestion that the likes of VDM could at some stage return to SA and turn out not just at U20 as he has done but for the Senior side, or the South Pacific Islanders who gained International Caps on residency qualifications plying their trade in Europe can do the same, that then makes it pointless having a World Cup you may as well call it the Composite Sides World Cup.
      As a final question, is there anyone out there in the Rugby World Official or Supporter or for that matter a Player that can put their hand on their heart and say 3 or 5 years residency makes that individual a bona fide National of the side that Co-Opts him? The Scotland XV that takes the field and the ‘Bench’ players are by definition representing a country so should there not be at least a familial connection? In my humble opinion of course there should.

  5. Generally poor game management 9/10/12 effectively they kept 11,13 and 14 out the contest by not passing to them or just kicking it away – which despite a small back row we should have won. Our bench death (and fitness) not so great and lack of game time apparent. Ireland and France are going to batter us I’m afraid.

    • If there’s any other players out there at 9 /10 / 12 without famous fathers they have to be given a chance .
      Cant just be same same same

  6. Same as last week, in the game till 60 minutes.

    Fitness (match fitness) looks to be an issue – when was the last time the Super 6 player played a competitive game?

    Is the structure of the franchise system failing our game and players?

    • From what I can see hardly any of these players play regularly in the S6.

      Which is a bit of failing because wasn’t that the point?

      They seem to be very competitive for 60 minutes then they fall away and that suggests some kind of gap in intensity or physicality.

  7. I just think the standard of domestic rugby they are exposed to isn’t high enough.
    Super 6 os supposed to help but how many of these players get regular game time in it?
    Not that many I think.

  8. Game management was the killer. The lack of passing from 10&12 was bizarre (11/13/14) literally might as well have not been there in attack and the kicking was poor throughout. Our back row are a little small as a unit. Our bench depth not great. Watching Ireland and France they are different level entirely. They are a young group and haven’t had lots of Rugby recently so this is all just good experience but this was a game we could and should have won.

  9. Seeing the Italian result tonight, to continue a few years of improvement and success, leaves me really anxious that Scotland will again be left trailing behind our 6N rivals. What is going on with our u20s and why do we seem to be struggling so much at the moment?

      • Half backs very weak for this level of rugby
        Others have to be given their chance.
        Just like Wales did for last night .they culled 8 from previous defeat and got their win

    • The level of competition that the boys have been exposed to in the past is a big problem. Plenty of good performances in there last night not helped by losing 2 of their biggest forwards early in the second half. Harrison, Williamson, Oguntibeju, Stirrat and Redpath all stood out. A bit more composure from their leaders would have helped but they had the beating of that welsh team from what I could see.


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