venue: Queensway Sports Stadium, Wrexham
3rd November 2012
Full Match Report
Wales produced an excellent second-half to turn a potential defeat into victory in their Under-18 international with Scotland at Wrexham's Queensway Sports Stadium on Saturday. Wales were 22-6 down at half-time as Scotland kept the majority of possession and scored tries from Craig Fairfield, Daryl Love, Louis Senter and Jack Stewart against one Welsh touchdown from Connor Farrar.
But a word from skipper Courtney Davies at the break inspired the Wales team to bounce back and they responded with 40 points in a barn-storming display that puts them in a great frame of mind ahead of next week's second November Test match against England.
Jason Blackmore got the Welsh momentum going in the second period when he grabbed a try on 45 minutes which Davies converted. Jack Condy added another on 48 minutes and suddenly Wales were back to within one converted try of their opponents. And on 55 minutes, they were indeed back on level terms as Kylum Austin breached the Scottish line for Davies to add another conversion.
The momentum was well and truly with the Welsh but they slipped up on the hour when Jack Stewart regained the lead for the Scots with a converted touchdown. However, that lead did not last long as Austin went up the other end of the pitch and immediately cancelled out Stewart's try which, with another Davies goal, put Wales back level.
And that was the last chance Scotland had to taking the honours as the outstanding Osian Phillips, who had run-outs, as did Davies and two other of the Under-18s squad, with the Wales senior party in training for last months' Autumn International Series, pushed Wales further forward and put them in the lead for the first time with 15 minutes to go. Scotland's resistance was broken and tries from Chris Leyshon and Farrar's second, both converted by Davies, put Wales over the victory line.
Wales head coach Barry Eaton was delighted with the display his teenagers put in after the break. He said: "There were some factors in that the first-half didn't go our way. It was probably 70-30 possession in Scotland's favour. It was our own fault as players were getting frustrated by some of the forward pass calls that were being made in the game.
"But credit to the boys. We spoke at half-time about keeping our composure and be right in areas we can control. From that, the possession came back to us and we had forty points in the second-half. There are areas we need to be a lot smarter in but there were signs that, if we can carry on in that vein, we will be competitive. We scored some really nice tries in that second-half which were on the back of our (playing) structures. A lot of tries were from good set-up plays."
Davies and Phillips stood out, said Eaton, adding: "There were some really good performances. Courtney showed great leadership qualities and he said at half-time that the players must not be fractious, which was very mature."
Now it is England for the Welsh Under-18s before another big clash with the Australia Institute of Sport at The Gnoll, Neath, on November 28. Eaton added: "England will be a step up for us next week, there is no doubt about that but it is far better for us to have had a rusty first-half against Scotland and a good second-half than to have had a great first-half and gone off the boil after half-time."
Pictured: Courtney Davies.
Jacob Morgan, Thomas Davies, Kylum Austin, Chris Leyshon, Alex Jones, Jordan Sheridan, Courtney Davies (captain), Rhys Pugsley, Connor Farrer, Osian Phillips, Jason Blackmore, Luke Kell, Rhys Anderson. Subs: Levi Quirke Knowles, Calvin Wellington, Charlie Rodgers, Jack Condy, Harry Cartwright.
Luis Smith, Daryl Love, Jamie Rowe, Gavin Reed, Ruaridh Cuthbertson, Louis Senter, Martin McNiven, Ross McConville, Jack Stewart, Sam Heron, Owen Wedgewood, Craig Fairfield, Corbin Kilday, Jack Plumbridge. Subs: Neil Alexander, Glen Sutherland, Fraser McTaggart, Iain Allen. Derek McNeil