Scotland’s under-20’s were brought back to earth with a loud thump last night after New Zealand romped to a 68 – 10 victory to open the 2015 World Rugby Championships in Parma, Italy, writes Alexander McLeman.
Heading into the summer tournament, Scotland were showing encouraging signs that improvements in youth rugby are beginning to turn into results, not least during this year’s under-20 RBS Six Nations, where the young thistles finished third, the highest ever by a Scottish age-grade side.
Last night’s 68-10 ruination, however, wasn’t just a solid opening game victory by a juggernaut team bursting with super rugby talents.
It was an astounding illustration of just how far off the pace Scotland really are with the rest of the Tier One nations.
New Zealand played an intelligent, active, switch-heavy defence that ripped the Scots apart, while on the other side of the ball their pace and destructive ball-carrying skills ran circles around a tortured Scotland side who had actually began the game in a surprisingly positive manner.
Leading 10-3 after 16 minutes from a try via Melrose lock Lewis Carmichael and conversion from Rory Hutchinson who had kicked an earlier penalty, Scotland were competing and holding their own.
Then the four-time champions, in a matter of minutes, merely exposed Scotland to a higher level of performance as they swept aside the young Dark Blues.
Auckland Blues pair Akira Ioane and Tevita Li orchestrated a fightback to score three unanswered tries that left the half-time ledger reading 27-10 at the interval.
After the break, Scotland’s defence crumbled, allowing the All Blacks to assert their dominance in the set-piece and breakdown, running in a further six tries as the tournament favourites comfortably secured their 58-point victory.
Scotland now have three days to recover before they face Ireland, who came from behind to beat Argentina 18-16.
Scotland team: R. Howarth, R. Galloway, A. Russell, T. Gibraith, A. Coombes, R. Hutchinson, B. Vellacot, D. Elkington, S. James, C. Shedon, S. Cummings, L. Carmichael, L. Wynne, J. Ritchie, A. Miller. Replacements: R. Graham, M. McCallum, Z. Fagerson, N. Irvine-Ness, M. Bradbury, G. Horne, B. Kinghorn.