Scotland today produced their first victory of the U20 World Championship, defeating Argentina 29-9. Tries from Robbie Nairn, Lewis Wynn and Richard Galloway, coupled with a decent kicking game from Blair Kinghorn meant that Argentina’s trio of penalties was not enough to steal victory in Italy.
With the Pumas coming within a penalty of beating New Zealand last week, the pressure was on Scotland to produce a strong result or risk demotion to the second tier of age-grade rugby, the Junior World Trophy.
Despite being underdogs, it was Scotland who started off the strongest with clever kicks from Kinghorn allowing the team to use some newly-discovered ball retention skills to put pressure on the Argentine defence.
Two Kinghorn penalties gave Scotland the early lead, the latter of which came from a scrum, an area of the game usually viewed as a weakness in this team.
Argentine Luciano Gasparro was given a yellow after 15 minutes for an accumulation of penalties and although Kinghorn took the three points, fly-half Miotti put the score up to 9-3.
Miotti added another three although the Scots can count themselves lucky that this was the extent of Argentine scoring; Blair Hutchison prevented an all but certain try by diving on a hack through and strong defence from Galloway meant that Scotland remained in control of the game.
Opportunities were limited for the Scots although Paddy Kelly and Magnus Bradbury both proved strong in attack. Kinghorn had an opportunity to extend his side’s lead to six before half time after another scrum penalty although his attempted skewed wide of the right post.
Half Time: Scotland U20 9 6 Argentina U20
Kinghorn got Scotland off to the best possible start with a penalty from the kick-off, although Argentina were soon on the front foot with ball in the opposition 22.
Kelly, however, made a good steal and from the clearance, the Argentinian back three spilt a ball allowing Nairn to pick up the ball. He gave a quick pass to Kelly who then offloaded to Hutchison who, after breaking the tackle, passed the ball back to Nairn who crossed under the posts for his first U20 try. Kinghorn’s conversion gave Scotland a 19-6 lead after just 45 minutes.
Scotland continued to control possession and territory with Bradbury and Fagerson making strong breaks and some more points seemed likely. Although Alex Coombs dropped the ball as he lunged for the line, the Scots soon had possession and a great miss pass from Hutchison put Galloway in the corner for another try.
Two more and Scotland would have the bonus point, allowing them to remain in a commanding position in the latter stages of the tournament.
The third try did came, although Scotland had to wait to the 70th minute; a strong driving lineout with flanker Wynn at the bottom meant that Scotland now led 29-9.
Alas, the final try was not to come with Scotland stuck in their own half with the Argentinian defence holding strong. The win puts Scotland in third place in their pool and they will now wait for the results of other matches which will determine their opposition for the next round.
Full Time: Scotland U20 29-9 Argentina U20
SRBlog Man of the Match: Kinghorn’s kicking from hand was vital, although a few skewed conversions were unhelpful. Bradbury carried well and Fagerson helped hold the scrum up well, although for his excellent work rate and ball carrying, centre Paddy Kelly must be congratulated.