WALES set themselves up for a Six Nations under-20 Grand Slam after marching on to their fourth successive win in the junior championship with a dominant performance against Scotland in last night’s international at the Tulloch Caledonia Stadium in Inverness.
Scorers: Scotland Under-20: Tries Muir, Ashe. Cons: Allan (2). Pens: Allan; Wales Under-20: Tries Warren (3), J Williams, R Williams penalty try. Cons: Davies (3). Pens: Davies (2).
Wales coach Danny Wilson had made much of the need for strong set-pieces if his side was to win. In the event, the Wales scrum pulverised the Scots to create a solid platform for their inventive backs to play superb attacking rugby and garner points.
In defeat Scotland can claim credit for a pick-and-drive game that brought its rewards, good line-out work and desperate defence from, in particular, full back Ruairidh Young. But in most respects this was a depressing night for Scottish rugby fans hoping to see the emergence of promising talent.
Wales’ strength in the set scrum threatened to make the match a one-sided affair in the opening phases but, despite enormous pressure on the Scotland line, the Welsh gain was limited to a successful penalty goal by stand-off Sam Davies.
The Scots were under siege again as Wales moved the ball slickly, but a faulty finishing pass let Scotland off the hook. Then, when Scotland finally brought some momentum, the result was a penalty by fly-half Tommy Allan to level the scores.
Then, against the run of play, Scotland bagged the first try of the match with a driven line-out that ended with prop Shawn Muir claiming the plaudits and Allan converting. But, almost immediately, Scotland threw away their advantage after a reckless pass from scrum half Ali Price was intercepted by Daniel Thomas.
The flanker was stopped by full back Ruairidh Young but was able to give a pass to Aaron Warren for the wing to touch down in the corner for an unconverted try.
There was further evidence of Wales’ attacking play when Davies flitted through a gap but a desperation tap tackle from flanker Alex Henderson checked the move. Wales, however, were on fire and produced another fine score from good handling that ended with centre Corry Allan supplying the scoring pass for a second try by Warren.
Wales still had time for a further score before half time, this time scrum half Rhodri Williams sidestepping his way to the line for his side’s third try, the conversion by Davies giving the visitors a 22-10 half time advantage. There was no respite for Scotland in the second half as Davies kicked another goal to extend the Welsh lead to 25-10. It was the prelude to a fourth try for Wales as they moved the ball with skill to create an overlap and a try for full back Jordan Williams.
Wales were reduced to fourteen men after Daniel Thomas was shown the yellow card for a repeated offence but Scotland were unable to make their extra man advantage tell.
As it was, the sword was stuck further into the wounded Scots with a penalty try for a scrum collapse, the conversion by Davies putting Wales into a 37-10 lead.
A second yellow card for Wales, this time to lock Carwyn Jones gave Scotland a chance to score. But Wales ran the ball from their own line and a clever cross kick enabled Warren to complete a hat-trick of tries.
Scotland salvaged some pride with a late try by Adam Ashe and the conversion by Allan to make the scoreline look less bad than it might have been. But there was no disguising the dominance of an impressive Wales, who had that definite look of champions.
Scotland Under-20: R Young; D Hoyland, C Auld, M Bennett, R Hughes; T Allan, A Price; S Muir, R Anderson, D Rae, R Leishman, J Gray, A Henderson, W Bordill, A Ashe. Replacements: C Black , J Bhatti for Muir 53, P Cringle for Rae 40, A Cameron for Leishman 69, T Spinks for Henderson 53, S Steele for Price 53, R Fergusson for Auld 62, K Buchan for Young 78.
Wales Under-20: J Williams; H Robinson, C Allen, S Hughes, A Warren; S Davies, R Williams; G Thomas, E Lewis, N Thomas, C Jones, R Hughes, E Jenkins, D Thomas, I Jones. Replacements: E Dee for Lewis 53, N Smith for G Thomas 65, D Suter for N Thomas 65, J Jones for R Hughes 72, J Benjamin for I Jones 53, J Davies for R Williams 65 , H Amos for S Davies 72 , J Dixon for Hughes 53.