Wales under-20s beat their Scottish counterparts 32-24 to see out their Six Nations campaign on a high, despite playing the last half hour with 14 men.
Ioan Cunningham’s side have endured a turbulent campaign and it looked as though things might finish on a low note when Harri Deaves was shown a red card early in the second half.
But the Welsh young guns withstood the Scottish pressure in the final quarter to see the game out through the boot of fly-half Sam Costelow.
The Scots hit the front early doors when Cameron Scott clipped over a penalty after a fast start but that would be the end of the conservative approach.
Some indiscipline from men in navy jerseys allowed Wales’ Costelow drive his side deep into the 22, as he did consistently throughout the half.
On their first visit, Wales got their reward. Big centre Joe Hawkins was clattered in the tackle but kept hold of position. The ball was spread to the far side and a few phases later, blindside flanker Christ Tshiunza powered his way over from close range.
However, a theme of the opening quarter was both sides exiting their half poorly from the restart and it gave Scotland great field position straight away. A high tackle penalty saw the Scots boot it to the corner and the driving maul did the damage before hooker Patrick Harrison crashed over.
Another poor exit and Scottish indiscipline saw Costelow put Wales in position straight away, though, and this time centre Hawkins would not be stopped as he charged his way through fly-half Scott.
Once again, the restart was a mess from the receiving team and Scotland made Wales pay. Some strong carrying from flankers Ollie Leatherbarrow and Harri Morris caused damage and the Scots were held up over the line once.
From the scrum, though, Wales were undone by a straightforward inside pass that sent centre Michael Gray through a handful of feeble Welsh tackles.
But to cap a rip-roaring opening 25 minutes, Wales went straight up the other end and turned up the pressure before loose-head prop Cameron Smith burrowed his way over from close range.
Costelow missed the conversion but Wales finished the half stronger, taking a 19-17 lead in at the break.
The second half got off to a concerning start when Wales winger Carrick McDonough stayed down after a mid-air collision. The game was stopped for over seven minutes and things were, understandably, a bit subdued when the game restarted.
Then came the red card.
In the 47th minute, Harri Deaves, fresh on the field, went in over the ball in an attempt to win a penalty at a breakdown. In the next stoppage, Scotland’s Tom Banatvala pleaded with the referee to check with the TMO for foul play.
Replays showed Deaves’ being thundered into by a Scottish player attempting to clear out the rugby before the Welsh openside’s hand makes contact with Bantalava’s face.
TMO Luke Pearce – and experienced referee – deemed it a red card offence and on-field referee Adam Leal produced it.
Almost immediately, Scotland went charging up the field and scored through Ben Muncaster, with Scott’s conversion making it a 24-19 deficit with half an hour to play.
But, undeterred, Wales came thundering back. Morgan Richards appeared to have the tryline at his mercy as he stepped inside winger Ollie Melville, only for the Scot to reach out an arm that caught the Welshman in the face.
Richards dropped the ball over the line but referee Leal awarded a penalty try for the high tackle and showed Melville a yellow card.
Wales now led 26-24 and defended desperately for the remainder of the match, seeing out the game with the help of two long-range Costelow penalties to finish their campaign on a high.
Wales U20s: Morgan Richards; Carrick McDonough, Ioan Evans, Joe Hawkins, Tom Florence; Sam Costelow. Ethan Lloyd; Cameron Jones, Efan Daniel, Nathan Evans, Dafydd Jenkins, Rhys Thomas, Christ Tshiunza, Alex Mann (C), Tristan Davies.
Replacements: Connor Chapman, Lewys Jones, Zak Giannini, James Fender, Harri Deaves, Harri Williams, Will Reed, Ben Burnell, Jacob Beetham, Eddie James, Evan Lloyd.
Scotland U20s: Alex Clayton; Finlay Callaghan, Scott King, Michael Gray, Ollie Melville; Cameron Scott, Murray Redpath; Tom Banatvala, Patrick Harrison, Corey Bower; Euan Ferrie, Alex Samuel (C); Ollie Leatherbarrow, Harri Morris, Ben Muncaster.
Replacements: Jamie Drummond, Cole Lamberton, George Breese, Max Williamson, Rhys Tait, Rory Jackson, Euan Cunningham, Christian Townsend, Elliot Gourlay, Thomas Glendinning, Adam Scott.