Sam Costelow suggested the Scarlets may have gem on their hands after he masterminded Wales U20s to a stunning victory over England on Friday night.
Costelow – who is leaving Leicester in the summer to return to Wales with the Scarlets – went through the scoring card to bag 18 points and lay the platform for a magnificent 23-22 win at Kingsholm.
The 19-year-old fly-half helped continue the Wales fightback in their age group Six Nations.
After opening defeats to Italy and Ireland, Jac Morgan’s men have now beaten the double World Junior champions France and England in successive games to haul themselves off the bottom of the table.
It was the first time in four years that Wales had won on English soil and they thoroughly deserved their victory despite having to come from behind in the final eight minutes to seal the deal.
Costelow had set-up a try for his half-back partner Ellis Bevan to help win the game over France in Colwyn Bay and his twinkle-toes were at it again in Gloucester as he twice carved open the English defence to create outstanding tries.
The first went to centre Bradley Roderick, while the Scarlets-bound outside half scored the second himself. He converted both, kicked two penalties and edged Wales back into the lead in the 75th minute with a nerveless drop goal. Throw in a try saving tackle on England wing Tom Roebuck and it was no wonder former England World Cup winner Will Greenwood picked him as the man of the match.
Roderick’s try gave Wales the lead and Costelow’s soil score made it 14-5 to Wales at the break. England managed a try through lose head prop Emmanuel Iyogun from a driving line-out.
England certainly turned up the heat in the second half and hit back with three tries. But the Welsh defence stood firm and were able to withstand huge pressure.
Back row men Morgan, Ioan Davies and Morgan Strong were once again at the heart of the Welsh effort and loose head prop Theo Bavacqua had a night to remember with a solid scrummaging performance, some great tackles and some useful turn-overs.
Everyone played their part and now head coach Gareth Williams will be hoping to finish on a high against Scotland in Colwyn Bay next week. Then all the focus will turn towards the Junior World Championships, where Wales are in the same pool as Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
England started the second half with a bang as outside half Barton crossed on the narrow side of a five metre scrum, but he couldn’t add the extras. From the re-start Wales earned a penalty and Costleow grabbed three points back.
England then had a try for Roebuck ruled out by the TMO for a forward pass earlier in the move, but they were lucky to see full back Freddy Seward only pick up a yellow card for an aerial challenge on opposite number Jacob Beetham that forced the Welsh No 15 to leave the field.
Replacement prop Sam Crean then got England back into the contest as he showed great understanding of the laws by diving into the back of a Welsh ruck on their line as the ball reached the try line. Welsh scrum half Bevan had his foot on the ball, and was preparing to clear, when Crean took his chance and picked up a sucker try.
The only boost for Wales was that Barton’s conversion attempt hit the upright. The re-start was a carbon copy of the previous one as new back row man Gwilym Bradley followed up Costelow’s kick and earned a turn-over penalty with his first action since coming on.
Costelow kicked the penalty and it was 20-15 to Wales. England hit back with a try from Jack Van Poortvliet after a brilliant midfield break by Josh Gillespie and this time the conversion was good from replacement outside half Will Haydon-Wood to finally take England into the lead.
There were eight minutes to go and there was no panic in the Welsh ranks. They worked a great line out drive to the edge of the home 22 and sucked in Crean to concede a penalty.
With that in their back pocket they kept the move going and set-up the perfect situation for Costelow to drop for glory. It was a night on which he was never going to miss and his 30 metre shot stole victory from the jaws of defeat.
What a night for him and what a win for Wales.
England U20: 15 Freddie Steward; 14 Gabriel Hamer-Webb, 13 Connor Doherty (captain), 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Tom Roebuck; 10 George Barton, 9 Sam Maunder; 1 Emmanuel Iyogun, 2 Theo Dan, 3 Cal Ford, 4 Hugh Tizard, 5 George Hammond, 6 Rob Farrar, 7 Richard Capstick, 8 Rusiate Tuima
Reps: 16 Sam Riley, 17 Sam Crean, 18 Harvey Beaton, 19 Alex Groves, 20 Jack Clement, 21 Jack Van Poortvliet, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 Josh Gillespie
Wales U20: 15 Jacob Beetham; 14 Frankie Jones, 13 Bradley Roderick, 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Mason Grady; 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Ellis Bevan; 1 Theo Bevacqua, 2 Will Griffiths, 3 Ben Warren, 4 James Fender, 5 Ben Carter, 6 Ioan Davies, 7 Jac Morgan (captain), 8 Morgan Strong
Reps: 16 Dom Booth, 17 Callum Williams, 18 Harri O’Connor, 19 Ed Scragg, 20 Gwilym Bradley, 21 Dafydd Buckland, 22 Joe Hawkins, 23 Luke Scully