Wales U20 produced a battling performance with 14-men to earn a final round bonus-point win over Scotland U20 and finish the U20 Six Nations on a high.
Ioan Cunningham had made seven changes to his side from that which lost to England U20 last time out, with Theo Bevacqua and Dan John ruled out with head injuries, while Oli Burrows, Joe Peard and Carwyn Tuipulotu dropped out of the side, and Lewys Jones and Jacob Beetham were named on the bench. Cameron Jones, Carrick McDonough, Efan Daniel, Dafydd Jenkins, Tristan Davies, Nathan Evans and Morgan Richards all started.
It was an ill-disciplined start from Wales as Cameron Scott opened the scoring from the tee after we conceded three penalties inside two minutes, but Christ Tshiunza struck straight back when a penalty of our own allowed Sam Costelow to kick to the corner and the forwards got to work with the big flanker crashing over.
This kicked off a back-and-forth opening 25 minutes as both sides struggled to deal with kick-off receptions and clearing their lines, as well as conceding penalties. Scotland kicked to the corner and Patrick Harrison was in possession at the back of a maul, but off the back of another maul for the men in red Joe Hawkins ran a superb crash ball line to power over.
A strong run from their own centre Michael Gray gave the Scots another try before Cameron Jones blasted over from another lengthy red zone attack for Wales to complete the first half try scoring. Two conversions each from Costelow and Scott meant the score was 19-17 to the hosts going into the sheds at the break.
The second half started in tough fashion for the home side as Carrick McDonough suffered a nasty looking head injury inside the first two minutes that caused a lengthy delay, before replacement flanker Harri Deaves was sent from the field for making accidental contact with the eye area while attempting a jackal.
From the resulting penalty Scotland kicked to the corner and laid siege to the try line with number eight Ben Muncaster finally getting over, but after taking a minute to re-group the Welsh were back in it just a few minutes later as Evan Lloyd made a break down the left wing before the ball was switched back to the right where Morgan Richards was tackled high in the process of scoring.
A yellow card for Ollie Melville and a penalty try gave Wales the lead and levelled up the player numbers, and when the Scots were offside in midfield Costelow was able to extend the lead off the tee.
Another three points for Costelow in the final minutes took Wales beyond a converted try ahead and some good game management and staunch defending kept us ahead until full-time to earn the five points and jump Italy U20 to finish the tournament in fourth.
An eventful final game to bring the curtain down on a long five weeks in a bubble for Ioan Cunningham’s squad, and with just a handful of players graduating the age grade it has been excellent experience for the group who could largely return next season.