Scotland went down to their second defeat in two games at the Under-20 World Championship last night as some inspired attacking was not enough to keep a powerful New Zealand side at bay.
Carl Hogg’s team gave proof of their attacking prowess with a five-try display that gave them the consolation of a bonus point, and after a disappointing start they fought back with 19 unanswered points and briefly threatened to produce a famous comeback. In the end, however, New Zealand were too strong, with some of their eight tries coming a little too easily.
After their 43-19 defeat by South Africa in the opening round of Pool C fixtures, however, Scotland can take a lot of heart from this match as they prepare for their last group game against Georgia on Wednesday. “I’m very proud of the boys,” captain Nathan Chamberlain said after the game in Rosario, Argentina’s third city. “The work effort was really high, we were just unlucky on the scoreline.
“We had a lot of drive and I think our subs helped with that a lot. From the South Africa game we learned a lot and I think we did ourselves proud.”
New Zealand were unstoppable in the opening quarter, quickly making sure of the bonus point. Tighthead prop Kaliopase Uluilakepa opened the scoring after six minutes, full-back Scott Gregory was next on the scoresheet, then winger Lalomilo Lalomilo and centre Quinn Tupaea scored tries three and four as the young Scots struggled to stay in touch with their opponents’ free-flowing style.
Hogg’s squad then produced some inventive running rugby of their own, however, and narrowed the gap with two well-worked tries. Complutense centre Rory McCallum was first to score, then Ayr full-back Ollie Smith got in on the act with the second try, and with captain Nathan Chamberlain converting that one, Scotland were back in the match at 26-12 down.
They might well have closed the gap further in the last few minutes before half-time as they pressed deep into New Zealand territory, but in the end a loose ball was snaffled by openside Jeriah Mua and the leaders were able to see out the rest of the half without conceding again. Once the game restarted, however, Scotland soon put the pressure on, and got their third try thanks initially to a dominant scrum. Clean ball at the set piece put the backs on the front foot, and when Smith came into the line on the right there was nothing the defence could do to stop him crashing through.Chamberlain’s conversion made it a seven-point game.
The junior All Blacks continued to look rattled for a while, but some powerful running on the right produced a second try for Lalomilo. The Scots defence held up well for a time after that, but just before the hour mark substitute Tamaiti Williams got their sixth try. The conversion made it 38-19, effectively ending Scotland’s hopes of a comeback. Another substitute, prop forward Ollie Norris, rumbled through for the seventh, with Burke converting.
The Scots lineout maul was a potent weapon, and it produced a try for replacement hooker Ewan Ashman with quarter of an hour to go, sub Ross Thompson converting this time.
Thompson then put in a superb kick to the left corner for Jack Blain to collect and score, but the winners had the last word when Taine Plumtree got their eighth try in stoppage time.
Earlier, South Africa made it two wins from two in the pool by beating Georgia 48-20. Scotland’s final pool game is against the Georgians on Wednesday, and if they win that, they will finish third in the group behind the New Zealanders and South Africans, which could be enough to avoid a relegation battle in the classification matches.