England U20 15 - 6 Scotland U20

An impressive performance by Scotland against England in Plymouth last night showed that while the gap in standard between the two countries has not been closed it has certainly been narrowed, to provide encouragement for the remainder of the Under-20 Six Nations and the IRB Junior World Championship in June.

The young Scots defended tenaciously against a fast set of backs, took the game to the English with their driving game, competed well in line-out and only in the scrum did England’s powerful front row have a clear advantage.

Outstanding for Scotland was No 8 Adam Ashe who, like Rory Hughes and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, has clearly benefited from experience with the Scotland sevens squad last season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Others to impress were centre Mark Bennett, who looked the most incisive of the backs, while in the pack locks Jonny Gray and Adam Sinclair produced exemplary performances, Sinclair showing that his move to France has paid off.

The Scots will rue yellow cards to Ruaridh Leishman and replacement Cameron Turner, who had been on the field for only a minute before being sent to the sideline, while in contrast England had a clean sheet for discipline.

Scotland, playing with the stiff breeze at their backs, drew first blood, their pressure from the kick-off rewarded with a penalty from 35 metres by stand-off Tommy Allan.

With Leishman in the sin-bin, England used their extra numbers to win a penalty try from a scrum five metres out, leaving stand-off Henry Slade with a simple conversion kick. But before the break Allan scored his second penalty goal to leave Scotland trailing 6-7 at the break.

Scotland competed aggressively after the interval, but a penalty goal by Slade provided a cushion for England. Then, with minutes to go, powerful prop Luke Cowan Dickie used his enormous strength to plough through three tackles to seal an England win.

Scorers: England U20: Tries: Cowan-Dickie, Pen try. Con: Slade. Pen: Slade. Scotland U20: Pens: Allan 2.

England U20: A Watson (London Irish); J Arnott (Exeter Chiefs), H Sloan (Harlequins), S Hill (Exeter Chiefs), B Howard (Worcester Warriors); H Slade (Exeter Chiefs), A Day (Northampton Saints); L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), M Crumpton (Saracens), K Sinckler (Harlequins), E Stooke (Gloucester Rugby), D Barrow (Leeds Carnegie), R Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby), J Conlon (Exeter Chiefs), J Clifford (Harlequins). Replacements: D Herriott (Northampton Saints) for Cowan-Dickie (78), D Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints) for Crumpton (58), S Wilson (Newcastle Falcons) for Sinckler (62), N Fowles (Sale Sharks) for Day (54), W Hooley (Northampton Saints) for Watson (66), M Jennings (Sale Sharks) for Arnott (56).

Scotland U20: K Buchan (Boroughmuir); D Hoyland (Boroughmuir), C Auld (Gala), M Bennett (Glasgow Warriors/Clermont Auvergne), R Hughes (Scotland 7s/Stirling County); T Allan (Western Province), S Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby/Heriot’s); J Bhatti (Stirling County), R Anderson (Gala), D Rae (Ayr), J Gray (Glasgow Warriors/Currie), A Sinclair (Perpignan), R Leishman (Stirling County), W Bordill (Sale Sharks), A Ashe (Glasgow Warriors/Stirling County). Replacements: C Black (Edinburgh Accies) for Russell (67), S Muir (Hawick) for Bhatti (55), Phil Cringle (Edinburgh Rugby/Stewart’s-Melville FP) for Rae (40), Cameron Turner (Aberdeen Grammar) for Sinclair (66), T Spinks (London Scottish) for Leishman (60), A Price (Bedford Blues) for Hidalgo-Clyne (62), A Hagart (Aberdeen Grammar) for Allan (63), R Fergusson (Ayr) for Buchan (9).

Referee: C Blessano (Italy).