Scotland’s thrilling 42-40 win over Ireland in the final round of the Six Nations under-18 Festival in Gloucester on Sunday gave the young Scots much to celebrate at the end of a gruelling three-match competition in the West Midlands, writes Alan Lorimer.
In temperatures close to 25 degrees Scotland refused to give up after being under the cosh in the opening quarter and showed their character throughout the second half when the lead changed seven times. “It was roasting out there on the pitch,” observed the Scotland head coach, Ross Miller. “The guys’ workrate in the heat was phenomenal.”
The victory over Ireland followed a hugely disappointing 19-18 defeat by Italy in the opening round and then a 28-17 loss to Wales. “We had a few challenges against Italy and Wales but the group tightened up for the Ireland game. The key factor was that they learned from the first two games,” said Miller.
Ireland had based their gameplan on using their big ball-carrying forwards to breach the gain line before deploying the backs. It is a style seen at senior level by the Irish provinces.
“It’s no surprise Ireland played the way they did,” added Miller. “Their coaching team is from the Leinster Academy.”
Miller, the former Melrose back row, is satisfied with the way his group has improved. “What has been pleasing is the progression the players have made and the way they have put things into practice.” said the head coach, picking out props Cole Lamberton and Jamie Drummond, for special mention.
Experienced centres Scott King and Matthew Currie and scrum-half Jamie Dobie posted strong performances, prop Dan Gamble was a big asset and stand-off Alex Harley earned plaudits not least for his defensive work against Ireland. Arguably the stand-out player was full-back/wing Harry Patterson and particularly against Ireland where his six from six off the tee was a huge factor in the Scots’ win.