Scotland 45-0 Netherlands: Young forwards dominate

Scotland followed up their victory over Wales two weeks ago with a seven-try demolition of Italy at Netherdale last night in a dominant performance underpinned by an immense effort in the set-piece. Indeed, Scotland’s scrummaging, in which tighthead prop and man of the match Zander Fagerson played a key role, was so strong that Italy were denied almost any possession from this source. Scotland’s back row were also impressive, with clever running and powerful carrying of the ball.

George Horne, brother of Scotland stand-off Peter, on the attack for Scotland Under 20s at Netherdale last night. Picture: SNS

Scotland’s dynamic play in the opening minutes brought a quick reward with a close-range try and conversion by scrum-half George Horne after the Scots forwards had overpowered the Italian pack. Then, from a line-out in the corner, Scotland used the strength of their forwards to drive over for a try by skipper Jamie Ritchie, Horne’s conversion attempt from wide out rebounding back off the upright.

Italy had a chance to claim their first points, only for the goal attempt by stand-off Matteo Minozzi to drift wide. From the restart, Scotland won possession and a surging run by No 8 Magnus Bradbury gained 40 metres.

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The Scots made no immediate profit but, at the next scrum, they forced the Italians to break their bindings at a cost of ten minutes in the sin-bin for prop Dino Dallavalle. With Scotland enjoying a one-man advantage, another score was inevitable, and it was delivered from a driven line-out that ended with Ritchie touching down. Horne converted to put Scotland 19-0 ahead.

Once restored to full complement, Italy showed signs of putting together a game, only for Scotland’s aggressive defence to snuff out any threats, leaving them comfortably ahead at the break.

Scotland looked determined to add to their points tally at the beginning of the second half and did so with a try under the posts by Gala man Ruairi Howarth from an incisive break by centre Patrick Kelly, Horne converting.

The Scots were dominating possession and territory and got their fifth try from a sniping run by replacement scrum-half Ben Vellacot, and intelligent support running from Ritchie enabled the flanker to score his hat-trick try, Tom Galbraith adding the conversion.

Ritchie was quickly in the action again, sending replacement wing Ben Robbins in for a try under the posts that left Gabraith with a straightforward kick at goal. Then, in a spectacular finish, Scotland wing Alec Coombes collected a kick ahead outside the home 22 before fending off four tacklers in an 80-metre dash to the line to sign off a record win.

Scorers: Scotland – Tries: Horne, Ritchie (3), Howarth, Robbins, Coombes. Cons: Horne (3), Galbraith (2).

Scotland U20: R Howarth (Edinburgh/Gala); R Smith (Currie), A Russell (Stirling County), P Kelly (Le Parc), A Coombes (London Scottish); R Hutchinson (Northampton), G Horne (Glasgow Hawks); M McCallum (Aberdeen Grammar), R Graham (Hawick), Z Fagerson (Glasgow/Glasgow Hawks), A Davidson (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks), L Carmichael (Melrose), N Irvine-Hess (Melrose), J Ritchie (Edinburgh), M Bradbury (Edinburgh/Boroughmuir). Subs used: S James (Wasps), D Elkington (Watsonians), J Owlett (Exeter Chiefs/ Exeter University), S Cummings (Glasgow/Glasgow Hawks), A Miller (Edinburgh/Watsonians), B Vellacott (Gloucester/Hartpury College), T Galbraith (Melrose), B Robbins (Edinburgh/Watsonians).

Italy U20: L Sperandio (Marchiol Mogliano); Y Agbasse (Asolo), G De Santis (Cammi Calvisano), E Lucchin (Marchiol Mogliano), T Beraldin (Valsugana Padova); M Minozzi (Valsugana Padova), L Petrozzi (Bath); D Dallavalle (Viadana), L Luus (Accademia FIR), P Buonfiglio (Marchiol Mogliano), D Zanetti (Cammi Calvisano), D Fragnito (Benevento), M Archetti (Rovato), J Polledri (Bristol), R Giammarioli (Citta de Frascati). Subs used: A Cincotto (Lafert San Dona), E Makelara (Marchiol Mogliano), F Pavesi (Cammi Calvisano), U D’Onofrio (L’Aquila Rugby Neroverde), M Cornelli (Marchio Mogliano), R Raffaele (Pol L’Aquila), M Azzolini (Pesaro), L Casalini (Rubano).

Referee: S Gallagher (Ireland)