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Under 20’s survive second half comeback by Club XV.

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Scotland’s Under 20’s played their final preparation match on one of BT Murrayfield’s back pitches on Tuesday night. The opposition was a Scotland Club XV drawn from the clubs in the BT Premiership. Although the U20 side eventually won by a comfortable margin, they didn’t have it all their own way, and improvements, particularly in the handling department will have to be made before the start of the 2015 Six Nations campaign.

An early penalty from scrum half, George Horne gave the International select an early lead, but proceeding were put on hold shortly after the restart as the Club XV lock, Callum Templeton suffered a serious lower leg injury which required on field treatment by the medical team before he was carried off the field and sent to hospital.

Just before the end of the first quarter, the pressure exerted by the U20 side told as full back, Ruairi Howarth found a gap in the defence and ran in the first try of the match. Horne then converted in the increasingly stiff wind for a 10-0 lead.

The Club XV side were still struggling to find their feet, but were still giving a good account of themselves – mostly in defence – until four minutes from the break when a series of rucks on the Club try line saw Scott Cummings burrow through for the second try. With the wind getting problematical, Horne didn’t even get close with the kick, but made up for the miss with a penalty on the stroke of half time for an 18-0 lead for the U20s.

During the break, the Club XV made a few key changes to their personnel and came out with all guns blazing. Keeping the U20 side penned into their half, they drove up to the 22 and, ten minutes in, a short pass from replacement scrum half, George Graham, found centre Ross Curle. He then proceeded to dodge and sidestep his way 15-odd metres through the U20 side and score the Club XV’s opening points under the posts. Unfortunately, the conversion from straight in front was rattled of the post by No. 22, Ben Chalmers, so 18-5 was the score.

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With their tales up, it was less than five minutes before the Club side crossed the whitewash again. With their wide game panning out well, wing Reuben Norville, crashed through a two-man tackle to score out wide, but Chalmers’ kick was again unsuccessful, so 18-10 was the score

With the U20’s in a bit of disarray, the Club XV side were soon on the scoreboard again. Another gap finding pass from Graham found Curle and the centre raced through for his second try under the posts. This time, it was No. 10, Gregor McNeish who slotted home the kick to take his side up to within a point at 18-17.

Some strong – and probably unprintable – words must have been spoken to the team after this try as, just inside the final quarter, they found themselves battering away at the Club line. Several rucks on the right of the field pulled in the defence and this allowed Horne a bit of space. The scrum half used all the space – and a little bit more to force his way over right at the corner flag to stretch the lead to 23-17. The Club side came back and crossed the line with a rolling maul, but the referee decoded there had been some sort of infringement and disallowed the try. However, the U20’s were now on the up and the final score was a superb passing effort from the backs which culminated in wing, Alec Coombes, putting Chalmers round the outside for a try under the posts. Again the kick sailed through for a final score of 30-17.

All-in-all, it was a none too impressive performance from the Scotland U20 side. There was plenty of effort and endeavour, but far too many mistakes from turnovers, dropped balls and missed passes. Added to this was a Club XV side who were not there just to make up the numbers, thus giving the coaching staff a few things to work on before the opening match against France  a week on Saturday.

Images from the match will appear here over the next few days.