Scotland pulled off their finest victory in Six Nations U20 rugby with a sensational win over Wales at Netherdale to put behind them the misery of a 47-6 defeat to France last Saturday.
Wales had achieved a 21-15 win against the current world champions, England, but in a performance that was all about a growing confidence, Scotland upset the form book with a display that suggested this young group of players are capable of developing into a strong team.
“Every player showed belief in themselves,” said Scotland Under-20 head coach, Sean Lineen, adding: “The fitness level and work ethic in this squad is high.”
Where Scotland really matched Wales was in the front five and notably in the front row where former props Zander Fagerson Murray McCallum, both former pupils of Strathallan School, were the equal of Welsh muscle. The Scots were also well served by skipper and flanker Jamie Ritchie, who showed why he earned a professional contract with Edinburgh.
Scotland also had a massive contribution from scrum half George Horne, the former Strathallan and Howe of Fife half back, who landed eight goals from eight kicks in a perfect performance off the tee.
A Scottish win looked almost out of sight when Wales ran in their fourth try to lead 24-12 five minutes before full time. Wales had scored their points through forward power and clever running behind the scrum and only their indiscipline had allowed Scotland into the game with four penalty goals by Horne.
But just on half time from a penalty-created line-out in the corner, Scotland launched a series of close range drives at the line that ended with McCallum crashing over, Horne’s conversion leaving Scotland trailing by just five points.
A Horne penalty and then the scrum’s half conversion of a try by Carmichael gave Scotland a 29-24 lead and suddenly it seemed victory was possible. Wales’ stand-off Dan Jones kicked a penalty, but with lock Adam Beard in the sin-bin Scotland made the most of their one man advantage to score through Fagerson, Horne adding the conversion. Wales managed a late try by wing Joshua Adams and the conversion by Jones, but Scotland were able to hold on to their lead for a magnificent win.
z Representing your country at your chosen sport is every rugby player’s dream.
For 19-year-old Ross Graham, his dream was realised in 2013, when he was first selected to play rugby for the Under 17s Scotland Rugby team against England.
And, once again, Ross, pulled on the blue jersey to represent his country on Friday night as part of the successful Under-20s squad.
Ross, from Hawick, is currently in his second year on the Borders Academy of Sporting Excellence (BASE) HND Coaching and Developing sports programme at Borders College and, on completion of the course in May, he hopes to go on and complete a degree at university.
He said: “Being a full-time sports student has helped me gain a professional understanding of what is required as a rugby player representing my country and I am indebted to the lecturers at the college for their help and support.”
Visit the Borders College website, www.borderscollege.ac.uk for more information.