Scotland felt the pace, power, and professionalism of an England side that ran in nine tries to overwhelm the young Scots in yesterday’s under-18 international match at Darlington.
Scorers: England under-18 – Tries: Fowley (2), Herron, Hughes, Townsend (2), Tompkins (2),Sharp. Cons: Herron (6). Scotland under-18 – Tries: Irvine-Hess, Sim. Pen: Parker
Scotland showed enough to suggest that with more exposure to this level of rugby they could be competitive but yesterday the Scots for the most part were forced into defensive mode against an English team playing rugby on the front foot.
“You saw today the tempo of this English team. They were sharp in the contact situation and as a result they were able to move the ball wide. They had had a couple of games already and that showed in their organisation. Our guys took about 25 minutes to get up to the speed of this game,” said Scotland under-18 head coach, Eddie Pollock.
“We got back into the game in the middle part of the first half but two scores just before half-time from basic errors rather killed us. That really disappointed me. The rest of the game we competed well for long periods and played some good rugby in the second half. We’ll learn a lot from this game and we will improve for the Ireland game, but we’re disappointed with this scoreline and giving away a few soft scores.”
Impressive for Scotland were replacements Gavin Lowe at full-back, Magnus Bradbury at number 8 and James Ritchie at lock, and from the starting XV flankers Ally Miller and Scott Burnside. Collectively Scotland produced good set-piece work, particularly in the line-out, and while the scrum was under pressure it never buckled.
England showed their attacking skills from the first set piece play with outstanding centre Nick Tompkins carving out a try for winger Tom Fowley. Scotland showed character in coming back into the game that ended with a penalty award and a goal for full-back Gavin Parker.
Then after number 8 Alasdair Mackie had been sent to the sin-bin for taking a player out in the air, Fowley struck again, the winger finishing off a dazzling handling move with a try in the corner. Two further tries, both converted by Brett Herron, gave England a 31-3 interval lead.
Scotland’s determined start to the second half produced points when lock Neil Irvine-Hess finished off a line-out move to score in the corner. But England quickly reasserted themselves with two more tries.
The Scots then claimed their second try, replacement scrum-half Ben Vellacott breaking before putting replacement wing Ian Sim in for the score.
England dominated thereafter, creating a second try for Tompkins and an interception try for scrum-half Josh Sharp, both converted by Herron.
England U-18: H Packman; T Howe, N Tompkins, B Herron, T Fowlie; J Sharp, S Townsend; L Chapman, J Walker, P Hill, J Onojaife, C Ewels, A Hughes, A Boyce, J Chisholm. Replacements used: S James, G Edgson, N Farthing, C Hewitt, J Peters, J Mitchell, J Skelcey, L Clayton-Molloy.
Scotland U-18: P G Parker (Merchiston Castle School/Biggar); R Smith (Oakham School/Northampton Saints), R Taylor (Loretto/Melrose), H Slater (Merchiston Castle School), A Rennie (Gordon Schools Huntly/Aberdeen GSFP); J Lang (London Scottish), L Earle-Wright (Robert Gordon’s College/Aberdeen GSFP); C Fenton (Strathallan/ Howe of Fife), R Graham (Hawick PSA), Z Fagerson (Strathallan), L Carmichael (North Berwick HS/North Berwick), N Irvine-Hess (George Watson’s College), S Burnside (North Berwick HS), A Miller (George Watson’s College), A Mackie (Dollar Academy). Replacements used: R Simpson (Edinburgh Academy), R Patterson (North Berwick HS), A McWilliam (Edinburgh Academy/Currie), J Ritchie (Strathallan), M Bradbury (Merchiston Castle School/Oban Lorne), B Vellacott (Ivybridge College/Barnstable), A Russell (Stirling County), G Lowe (Ayr), I Sim (Duns).
Referee: T Trainini (FRA)