The Herald on Sunday
Harsh lessons but still positives for youngsters
THE aim at U20 level is not so much to win, but to find diamonds in the rough – which is why this game was not as disappointing for Scotland as the scoreline may imply.
Ireland were favourites going into the game, but nevertheless the decisive moment came at the start of the second half with Scotland flanker Harri Morris being sent off.
He had a good game up to that point and was unfortunate to take out Irish full-back Jamie Osborne in the air, but it was a clear red card and changed the game from one Ireland were edging, into the comfortable final scoreline.
Scottish heads dropped as a yellow for wing Michael Gray meant they were down to 13, but there was still some concern that the Scots could not score themselves when they did manage to exert pressure.
The second row pairing of captain Alex Allan and Max Williamson were effective in a Richie and Jonny Gray kind of way, while No.8 Ben Muncaster did not suffer in comparison to Irish opposite number and man-of-the-match Alex Kendellen.
There was even a couple of sons of famous fathers with Murray Redpath, son of Bryan, solid at scrum-half and Christian Townsend, son of Scotland coach Gregor, able to show some flashes as a substitute.
“They are a young side and haven’t had much practice against live opposition, but there are some cracking young players,” said head coach Sean Lineen.
“They are hurting at the moment, which is right, but they will bounce back. We will keep the environment positive, we were competitive in the first half, then we had the red card and did not manage it well, but need to learn from that.
“They will learn an awful lot, they were competing in the first half and getting up to speed with the game. Harri was not malicious, it wasn’t intentional and he apologised to the player after the game, but they are a young group of players and dealing with that is quite tough.”
So positives to be found, but the biggest negative was that they only scored one try when they had the territory and possession to score more.
Scotland took a little while to work their way into the game after conceding the first try and in the end it was their commanding line-out which formed the foundation with a series of drives and penalties.
With another penalty pending, outside half Cameron Scott put a grubber through for centre Elliot Gourlay to score. Scott converted.
Just before half time Ireland had a fortunate score, a kick through turning into a fly hack to the line. Gray was yellow carded for obstruction and a Penalty Try gave Ireland the lead at the break.
But the real hammer blow came at the start of the second. When Osborne jumped high to collect, Morris tried to pull out of the tackle but too late as the Irishman went flying.
Luckily Osborne was unhurt, but there was no way back for Scotland as Ireland gradually extended their lead with four more tries.
Scorers, Scotland U20s – Try: Gourlay. Con: Scott. Ireland U20s – Tries: Seroka, Penalty Try, Illo, Kendellen, Jennings, Osborne. Cons: Humphreys, Corkery 3.
Scotland: O Melville; F Callaghan (R Tait 49),
S King, E Gourlay, M Gray; C Scott (C Townsend 59), M Redpath (E McVicker 49); C Lamberton (M Jones 49), P Harrison, (J Drummond 49), O Frostick (G Breeze 40-78), M Williamson,
A Samuel (E Ferrie 71), A Smeaton
(O Leatherbarrow 60), H Morris, B Muncaster. Ireland: J Osborne, B Moxham, S Jennings,
C Forde, J O’Connor (C Cosgrave 54), J Humphreys (T Corkery 28), C McKee(W Reilly 62), T Lasisi (J Boyle 57), R Loughnane (E de Buitlear 60),
S Illo (M Donnelly 57), M Morrissey, H Sheridan, A Soroka R Crothers 46), O McCormack D Byrne 57), A Kendellen
Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy).