9:38pm Wednesday 14th May 2014
By Chris Kirwan
WALES Under-20s warmed up for the Junior World Championship with a 31-19 win against their Scottish counterparts in Bridgend.
Byron Hayward would have been pleased with a useful workout at the Brewery Field ahead of June’s tournament in New Zealand.
His young charges were on top throughout – putting their driving maul to good use – but also had to work hard in defence against the spirited Scots.
Plenty of questions were asked of the Wales youngsters, who will look to step it up against Fiji, Ireland and France as they look to go one better than last year’s second-place finish.
Wales led 24-12 at the break with 19 of their points coming from their Cross Keys contingent, flanker Scott Matthews and loosehead Luke Garrett scoring tries and Angus O’Brien booting nine points. Ospreys wing Dafydd Howells ensured it wasn’t an all Pandy Park affair with super try from halfway.
Dragons fly-half O’Brien was first to trouble the scoreboard operator with a second-minute penalty but the Scots were in front after 11 minutes when wing Sam Pecqueur burst through then benefited from some charitable defence from RGC 1404 full-back Afon Bagshaw.
But 5-3 was as good as it got for the visitors, who were put under pressure by Wales’ well-drilled driving lineout.
Dragons openside Scott Matthews was the first beneficiary when he steered a maul over the whitewash and the flanker had a part to play in the second score.
His turnover in midfield was worked wide by regional colleagues Luc Jones and James Benjamin to Howells on the left wing and the Ospreys speedster, who was capped against Japan last summer, showed plenty of gas to scorch over from 50 metres.
The third try was a slightly less dramatic affair, Keys and Dragons loosehead Luke Garrett flopping over after another impressive driving lineout on 35 minutes.
The Scottish did, however, finish the half strongly and Pecqueur went under the sticks for a second score with the last play.
The second half started slowly, a consequence of the vast number of replacements, but RGC centre Harri Evans finished off a neat move down the left wing with 53 minutes gone.
But things soon got scrappy again and it was Scotland that finished on top with Edinburgh speedster Jamie Farndale having the final say when he finished off a breakaway try after Dragons fly-half Ethan Davies was intercepted inside the visitors’ 22.
Wales U20 scorers: tries – S Matthews, D Howells, L Garrett, H Evans; conversions – A O’Brien (3); E Davies; penalty – A O’Brien
Scotland U20 scorers: tries – S Pecqueur (2), J Farndale; conversions – Rory Hutchison, B Chalmers
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