Scotland U20 30-17 Italy U20: Young Scots victory

SCOTLAND claimed their first win of the junior championship with a dominant performance at Netherdale last night to provide the senior side with a welcome boost.

Scorers: Scotland U20s: Tries – Allan, Hoyland, Gray; Pens – Allan 3; Con – Allan, Hagart 2. Italy U20s: Tries – Mbanda, Campagnaro; Pen - Padovani; Cons – Buscema, Campagnaro..

However, the video of this match should provide a valuable lesson for the young Scots on how better decision-making and concentration at crucial moments is the difference between a hard-fought match and a comfortable victory.

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Coach Sean Lineen was a frustrated soul as he watched his side pass up countless scoring opportunities before they finally broke free and scored two last-quarter tries to put distance between the sides, but pleased nonetheless after last week’s narrow defeat against England.

He said: “That was a great result against a very stuffy Italian side who made life very difficult for us tonight.”

The Scots worked hard to take the early initiative with Tommy Allan, the stand-off and nephew of former Scotland and Springbok hooker John Allan, looking to vary attack with hand and foot.

Hooker Russell Anderson was driven over by big lock Adam Sinclair but well held up by Italy, and it was the visitors who opened the scoring, stand-off Edoardo Padovani exploiting Scotland’s indiscipline with a penalty after 13 minutes.

Scotland responded swiftly when they forced pressure on the Italian half from the kick-off, winning ball and setting up a good attacking platform inside the visitors’ 22, and Allan neatly stepped into a barn-sized space behind the Italian defence and sprinted to the posts.

The fly-half, born and bred in South Africa, converted and within minutes inside centre Mark Bennett, the Clermont Auvergne youngster on loan at Glasgow, broke from deep inside his own half and took
Scotland racing back to the Italian 22. He had Keith Buchan and Rory Hughes in support, but they were 20 metres to his left and the Italians scrambled their defence well to shut Scotland out.

Allan added a penalty to send Scotland in 10-3 up at half-time.

The fly-haf slotted another penalty as the Italians tried everything to win some ball back, but Scottish decision- making continued to cost them, and frustration boiled over when Allan held on to big Italian prop Sami Panico after a tackle and duly received a few blows to the head.

English referee Ian Tempest finally reached for his pocket and replacement scrum-half Marcello Violi happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, earning a yellow card after a series of ruck infringements by his team-mates.

Allan converted the resultant penalty, and eventually, with 16 minutes to go, Scotland found the try that the crowd were desperately waiting for.

It was a fine team effort, sparked by a break on the left by Rory Hughes, Jonny Gray leading the charges up the middle, and then replacement fly-half Alex Hagart launching the backs to the right.

Man of the match Bennett made a key incision, the Cumnock lad seeming to have jet-propelled boots to turn hope into opportunity, and Hoyland cut in off the right wing to take the pass and sprint the last ten metres to the line.

Italy came back late on and No 8 Maxime Mbanda rewarded their persistence with a try, 
Filippo Buscema converting. While Scotland skipper Gray seemed to restore the balance by diving over near the posts in the last minute, Hagart converting, there was time still for impressive centre Michele Campagnaro to intercept a loose pass and race in for a third Italy try, which he converted with a quick drop-kick. This was a deserved second win in a row for Scotland over Italy at this level, but the youngsters may need to discover a greater ruthlessness if they are to follow up in their next match with a first win over Ireland in six meetings.

Scotland U20s: K Buchan; D Hoyland, C Auld, M Bennett, R Hughes; T Allan , S Hidalgo-Clyne; J Bhatti, R Anderson, P Cringle, J Gray (capt), A Sinclair, T Spinks, W Bordill, A Ashe. Subs: C Black for Anderson 40mins, R Fergusson for Buchan 50, S Muir for Bhatti, A Henderson for Spinks, both 54, A Price for Hidalgo-Clyne 60, A Hagart for Allan 63, R Leishman for Sinclair 67, D Rae for Cringle 74.

Italy U20s: A Esposito; D Odiete, M Campagnaro, T Boni, F Guarducci; E Padovani, S Marinaro; S Panico, A Moriconi, S Pietro Ferrari, A Trotta, M Andreotti, D Rimpelli, J Salvetti (capt), M Mbanda. Subs: L Scarsini for Ferrari 40mins, M Violi on for Marinaro 43, G Riedo for Andreotti, G Vian for Rimpelli, both 54, G Benvenuti for Boni 58, L Conti for Moriconi, F Buscema for Padovani, both 67.