Bennett aims to bring slice of cup luck to Scotland U20s
SCOTLAND’S latest cup-winner is hoping some of his good luck rubs off on the Scotland under-20 squad when they head to the World Championships in South Africa this weekend.
Mark Bennett scored the decisive try, his fifth for the Clermont Auvergne under-23s, with just seven minutes of the French “Espoirs” Championship Final remaining on Sunday to take the match with Perpignan’s young flyers into extra-time.
And, with the teams locked at 16-16 with the final whistle of extra-time looming in Cahors, Clermont struck a penalty to claim victory.
Bennett said: “It has to be one of the most important tries I’ve ever scored. I’d rank it alongside the try for Ayr in last year’s Scottish Cup Final. I seem to like scoring in cup finals! We were always behind and it was pretty exciting the way we came back and to get on the end of a great attack from our own half and score was just amazing.
“They had a kick to win it at the death but it went horribly wrong so we were a bit lucky, but we got there.
“The boys were ecstatic and we went back to the club where there was a big barbecue and the other teams were there too. It was a fantastic way to finish my first season in French rugby.”
Bennett suffered a cruciate ligament injury in the first week of Clermont’s season but returned in February and has been a key figure in the under-23s’ success. His form went a long way to encouraging the club’s academy director to snap up Murdo McAndrew, the 18-year-old scrum-half from Bell Baxter and Strathallan schools, for next season.
The senior Clermont side will feature in the Top 14 semi-finals on Saturday week with Nathan Hines and Jason White pushing for places. By then, Bennett will be in South Africa for the Junior World Championships with Peter Wright’s under-20s, after enjoying a few days with his family and girlfriend in Ayrshire this week.
“It was refreshing to come back to some nice weather,” he said. “I left Clermont in the rain and got home to sunny Glasgow, which is not always the case!
“It’s nice to have a few days before we leave for South Africa, but I’m looking forward to the tournament. We have a strong side going out and, provided we can put in a performance, the results will take care of themselves. I have taken a lot of confidence from the wins we’ve had in France recently and I know there is a lot of confidence in the under-20 squad because they’re good players.
“We have a tough group with Australia, France – and a few of my Clermont teammates – and Argentina, but I don’t see why we can’t win the games. We’re not going out there expecting to lose.”
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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