England 39 - 29 Scotland: U18s narrow gap

Scotland showed yesterday that the gap between themselves and England in under-18 rugby has narrowed considerably when they delivered a confident display against the men in white and scored four tries.

Robert Nairn of George Watson's College/Currie. Picture: SNS
Robert Nairn of George Watson's College/Currie. Picture: SNS

England have already defeated France this season and were expected to achieve an easy win, but the young Scots were able to challenge a side all of whom are coached and conditioned in the professional environment of the Premiership clubs.

Scotland refused to go into their shell against a skilful England team and at times showed that their offensive game was of a high standard.

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“We showed we’re not afraid to play attacking rugby. I thought some of our play was outstanding,” said Scotland coach, Eddie Pollock. “We set our standard and posed questions.”

Where Scotland lost the game was in the first 20 minutes when they were exposed defensively by England’s pace and skill in midfield – costing four tries in quick succession.

Outstanding for Scotland was Edinburgh Academy stand-off Blair Kinghorn, who managed the Scots’ attacking play with skill; Hawick Wanderers’ wing Darcy Graham who, aside from showing alertness in scoring an interception try, had several other threatening runs, and Strathallan No 8 Bruce Flockhart, who carried well. There were also good performances by locks Callum Hunter Hill of Stewart’s-Melville and Hamish Bain of George Watson’s.

Scotland gave notice of their attacking intention with a set-piece move by Kinghorn that sent Saul Melvin-Farr on a direct course to the line. But tries by winger Darren Atkins, full-back Johnny McPhillips, flanker Joe Craggs and winger Sam Aspland-Robinson gave England a seemingly comfortable 22-5 lead.

An interception try by winger Graham and the conversion by Kinghorn and then a close-range try by hooker Fraser Renwick, however, meant Scotland trailed by just five points at the break.

At the start of the second half, Scotland lost their composure in the line-out costing them a further try, a second for Ashland-Robinson but, again, the Scots hit back first with a penalty by Kinghorn and then a skilfully worked solo try by the stand-off which he converted.

England pressure brought a try for replacement Charlie Caps and then a late penalty by McPhillips for a 39-27 victory, but Scotland ended the game encamped on the England line.

Scorers: England U18: Tries – Atkins, Brophy-Clews, McPhillips, Craggs, Aspland-Robinson (2), Capps; Cons – Brophy-Clews, McPhillips (2); Pen – McPhillips. Scotland U18: Tries – Melvin-Farr, Graham, Craig, Kinghorn; Cons –Kinghorn (2); Pen – Kinghorn.

England U18: J McPhillips (Newcastle Falcons, Sedbergh School); D Atkins (Bath Rugby, Millfield School), M Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie, Prince Henry’s), M Malins (Saracens, Felsted), S Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins, Wellington College); T Brophy Clews (London Irish, Abingdon School), J Maunder (Exeter Chiefs, Blundells School); J Pope (Sale Sharks, Myerscough College), D Frost (Bath Rugby, Filton College), J Stanley (Exeter Chiefs, Truro College), J Caulfied (Exeter Chiefs, Bicton College), T Cardall (Northampton Saints, Moulton College), J Craggs (Newcastle Falcons, Gosforth Academy), W Allman (Northampton Saints, Trent College), Z Mercer (Bath Rugby, Merchiston Castle School).

Scotland U18: S Melvin-Farr (Edinburgh Academy/Edinburgh Academicals); D Graham (Hawick High School/Hawick Wanderers), A Greig (Stewart’s Melville College/Stewart’s Meville), C Eastgate (Henley College/Wasps), R Nairn (George Watson’s College/Currie); B Kinghorn (Edinburgh Academy/Edinburgh Academicals), J Troup (Strathallan School); A Nicol (Dunfermline), F Renwick (Hawick High School/Hawick Wanderers), F Bradbury (Merchiston Castle School), H Bain (George Watson’s College/Currie), C Hunter-Hill (Stewart’s Melville College), A Craig (Hartpury College/Gloucester) M Dewar (Abingdon School/Wasps), B Flockhart (Strathallan School/Highland).