Scotland Under-20 were given a rigorous workout ahead of their opening Six Nations match against Ireland in Athlone a week tomorrow by a Scotland Clubs side that blended skill, pace and raw power to run in six tries against the age-grade team.
But the Under-20 coach, Sean Lineen, took much from his side's performance. "This is a young team and they are still learning. The club boys have some quality players and are bigger and stronger. But we got it back to 22-19 in the second half. Then we lost our way a bit with one-on-one tackles. But we never gave up and scoring four tries was really pleasing and especially so as one of these was a driven lineout.
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"This is the final day of a three day camp so the boys were probably a bit tired," added Lineen, whose side was without the former Jed-Forest forward Glen Young, now with Newcastle, and the Worcester player Jack Cosgrove.
Clubs showed their hand in the first minute with a dramatic try triggered by a run out of defence by wing Eraland Oag and clever inter-passing up the touchline that finished with Peter Jericevich touching down under the posts and then converting his own try.
The Under-20s played their way back into the game and from a penalty-created lineout they drove the setpiece cleverly to create a try for second row Andrew Cramond. Gavin Lowe's conversion attempt rebounded off an upright .
Clubs hit back promptly with a clever kick to the corner that forced the Under-20s to run the ball into touch. From the ensuing lineout Clubs used their strength to force their way over the line, prop Alex Allan emerging from the heap to claim the credit. Jericevich missed with his conversion attempt but Clubs had a useful 12-5 half-time lead.
A short-range try by replacement scrum-half George Graham and then a touchdown by Oag increased the Clubs' lead but the Under-20s replied positively with what was the try of the match, carved out by Lowe, and finished by replacement scrum-half Ben Vellacot after Damien Hoyland had scorched up the touchline, Lowe adding the conversion.
The Under-20s then ran a penalty close to the Clubs line and replacement prop Phil Cringle was on hand to barge over for a try converted by Lowe. Almost immediately, Clubs pulled away once more with a try by Oag, Jericevich converting.
The Under-20s showed their staying power with a the final score of the match, a solo try by replacement stand-off Ben Cooper converted by Lowe but Clubs' had the final say with a converted Richard Mill try.
Scotland Under-20 Tries: Cramond, Vellacot, Cringle, Cooper. Cons: Lowe (2)
Scotland Clubs Tries: Jericevich, Allan, George Graham, Oag (2), Mill. Cons: Jericevich (3)
Scotland Clubs N Godsmark (Edinburgh Accies); E Oag (Aberdeen Grammar), C Auld (Gala), E Scott (Gala), G Somerville (Gala); R Mill (Melrose), P Jericevich (Ayr); A Allan (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh), L Gibson (Hawick), E McQuillan (Gala/Edinburgh), M Douglas (Heriot's), R Nimmo (Heriot's), A Nagle (Melrose), W Bordill (Stirling County/Glasgow), J Swanson (Stirling County).
Replacements: G Hunter (Ayr/Glasgow), F Scott (Ayr/Glasgow), N Cox (Ayr), C Templeton (Ayr), A Redmayne (Glasgow Hawks), Gary Graham (Gala), George Graham (Gala), C Gossman (Ayr), G Turner (Heriot's/Edinburgh), G Cottrell (Hawick)
Scotland Under-20 G Lowe (Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Warriors); J Farndale (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh), D Hoyland (Melrose), R Young (Edinburgh Accies), S Pecquer (Edinburgh Accies); B Chalmers (Melrose), M McAndrew (Clermont Auvergne); J Malcolm (Ayr), S James (London Wasps), D Rae (Ayr/Glasgow), L Carmichael (Melrose), A Cramond (Aberdeen Grammar), N Irvine-Hess (Watsonians/Edinburgh), T Spinks (London Scottish), M Bradbury (Boroughmuir/Edinburgh)
Replacements: R Graham (Hawick), P Cringle (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh), C Fenton (Strathallan/Howe of Fife), B Vellacot (Hartpury Coll/Worcester Warriors), B Cooper (Boroughmuir), I Sexton (Edinburgh Uni), N Herron (Glasgow Hawks/ Scotland 7s), S Thomson (Worcester), R Knott (Melrose)