Wales began their U18 5 Nations Festival with a 31-10 victory over Scotland at St Helens.
Wales led 28-13 at half time, only for a valiant Scottish fightback saw them narrow the gap to 28-23, only for Wales to nudge further ahead through a penalty from Coleg y Cymoedd fly half Ben Jones. Bedford full back Fraser Strachan crossed the whitewash to narrow the gap once again, with Edinburgh Academy’s Ben Appleson knocking over the extras to take it to 31-30, but time was against the Scots, who could not get past that Welsh lead.
Wales opened the scoring early on through Llandovery College centre Corey Baldwin, which Jones converted, before two Appleson penalties for Scotland narrowed the early Welsh lead to 7-6.
Wales were next on the scoreboard though, with Sedbergh School debutant Jim Botham profiting at the tail of a driving maul, the openside was playing against his schoolmate Charlie Gowling, who was at scrum half for Scotland.
Jones’ conversion pushed Wales 14-6 ahead but once again Scotland fought back, with George Heroits’ Cameron Hutchinson finishing in fine style before an Appleson conversion brought things back to just a point at 14-13.
What followed though was probably the decisive moment in the game, with Wales scoring two tries in just four minutes as the half drew to a close. First Baldwin went over for his second of the afternoon, finishing off an excellent backs move, before Coleg Gwent’s Joe Goodchild went over in the corner.
Jones expertly bisected the uprights for both so give Wales a commanding 28-13 half time lead.
It was to prove the last time in the game that Wales would be so comfortable. Scotland came firing out in the second half, and Appleson quickly landed a penalty after Botham saw yellow for Wales for an off the ball tackle.
Wellington College winger Rory McMichael added a try shortly after thanks to some excellent work from Dolalr Academy tighthead Euan McLaren, one of three Dollar Academy players in the starting side, alongside fly half Grant Hughes and openside Callum Cruikshank.
Jones then landed that crucial penalty, taking Wales’ tally to the decisive 31 point mark, but it was Wales’ only score of the half, and the young standoff saw yellow shortly after as Scotland ramped up the pressure once again.
As the game ticked towards the final minutes, Strachan went over for that late Scottish try, with Appleson bringing them within a point with the conversion.
The clock was against the away side though, with the referee blowing his whistle to end a glorious U18 International at Wales 31-30 Scotland.
Both sides are in action again on Tuesday, in a double header at Caerphilly. Scotland start things off with a 17.15 kick off again Ireland, who narrowly lost to England on Thursday, with Wales following that game at 19.30 against Italy, who are yet to kick off their campaign.
Full Time: Wales U18 31-30 Scotland U18
Wales U18 XV
15 Leon Randell (Coleg Sir Gar)
14 Joe Goodchild (Coleg Gwent)
13 Corey Baldwin (Llandovery College)
12 Ben Thomas (Cardiff & Vale College)
11 Ryan Conbeer (Coleg Sir Gar)
10 Ben Jones (Coleg y Cymoedd)
9 Dane Blacker (Coleg y Cymoedd)
1 Rhys Carre (captain, Cowbridge Comprehensive)
2 Jordan Liney (Hartpury College)
3 Harri Dobbs (Cowbridge Comprehensive )
4 Rhys Davies (Millfield)
5 Will Griffiths (Gowerton Comprehensive)
6 Lloyd Pike (Coleg Sir Gar)
7 Jim Botham (Sedbergh)
8 Morgan Morris (Hartpury College)
Replacements: 16 Iestyn Harris (Ysgol y Cymer) 17 Josh Reynolds (Newport High School) 18 Christian Coleman (Newport High School) 19 Ben Sier (Coleg y Cymoedd) 20 Will Jones (Gower College) 21 Charlie Davies (Gowerton Comprehensive) 21 Connor Tantum (Porthcawl) 22 Callum Carson (Gower College) 23 Gethin Gibby (Coleg Sir Gar).
Scotland U18 starting XV:
15 Stafford McDowall (Merchiston Castle)
14 Rory McMichael (Wellington College)
13 Fraser Dingwall (Bedford)
12 Cameron Hutchison (George Herriots)
11 Ben Appleson (Edinburgh Academy)
10 Grant Hughes (Dollar Academy)
9 Charlie Gowling (Sedbergh)
1 Ross Dunbar (Linlithgow Academy)
2 Paul Cairncross (Kelvinside Academy)
3 Euan McLaren (Dollar Academy)
4 Archie Erskine (Uppingham)
5 Jamie Hodgson (Stewart Melville)
6 Jack Bruce (Strathallan)
7 Callum Cruikshank (Dollar Academy)
8 Dan Marek (Richard Huish)
U18 5 Nations Festival Schedule:
England 15-12 Ireland
Wales 31-30 Scotland
Ireland v Scotland – Caerphilly, 29th March, 17.15
Wales v Italy – Caerphilly, 29th March, 19.30
Italy v Ireland – Caerphilly, 2nd April, 11.00
England v Scotland – Caerphilly, 2nd April, 13.30
England A v Italy – St Helen’s, 6th April, 17.15
Wales v England – St Helen’s, 6th April, 19.30