Wales U18 hit back to beat their Scottish counterparts 31-24 in a nine-try thriller at St Helen’s, Swansea, in which the lead changed hands six times.
Even right at the death the gallant Scots were attempting to get back on level terms with one final try, but the Welsh defence stood firm to ensure they ended up on the right side of the result.
“This was the first exposure for a lot of these boys to international rugby and wearing the red jersey, so it was nice to finish off that experience with a win. It was an exciting game and we’re really pleased with the result,” said Wales U18 head coach, Richie Pugh.
“We know the lessons we need to take from it, in regards to game management and understanding how to manage the next few minutes when we get in front. Overall, though, we’re really pleased and the boys got the result they deserved.”
Harry Beddall’s side drew first blood when full back Tom Bowen broke through in midfield and then had enough pace to race all the way to the line to score the opening try. Outside half Harri Wilde landed the first of his three conversions and Wales were up and running.
The Scots kicked deep into the home 22 to set up an attacking line-out option, but the Welsh forwards did their job to steal possession and help clear the danger. Only momentarily, however, as the visitors opened their account soon after when their powerful carriers made dents and Seb Stephen got over for a try.
Another soon followed to earn them the lead for the first time. A nicely timed break from Johnny Ventisei saw the Scots attack from their own half, link well and send in Hector Patterson for a second try.
Some neat individual skill by Wales wing Harry Rees-Weldon as he chased a chip over the top enabled him to keep the ball alive and give supporter runner Wilde a clear path to the line for a try he also converted. That gave the home side a 14-10 lead at the break, but it was still anyone’s game.
Coming out for the second half, Scotland were first out of the blocks to set up camp in the Welsh half. But the Scottish side struggled to get over the gain line and convert their dominance into points. Eventually a penalty too far for Wales saw wing Ioan Duggan shown a yellow card and Scotland awarded a penalty try to edge them back ahead 17-14.
There was an immediate response from the home side as centre Steffan Emanuel crossed and Wilde added the extras. The nip and tuck continued as replacement Joe Townshend replied with a try for the Scots and Jack Brown converted to regain the lead.
Next on the scoresheet was Welsh replacement back row man Keanu Evans, whose try in the corner put Wales back ahead at 26-24. Lock Nick Thomas then crashed over the line in the corner to extend Wales’ lead to 31-24 with a minute left on the clock and they were able to hold out from there.