Scotland U20 3 - 59 England U20: Rampant England overwhelm Scots

SCOTLAND have yet to register anything other than dispiriting defeat to England at this age grade level and, despite a bright start to the match, the home side never looked like ending that miserable run at Firhill last night.

The Scots started well and took an early lead on six minutes thanks to a Harry Leonard penalty but their first score turned out to be their last and the hosts didn’t have long to enjoy their brief supremacy.

Almost immediately England scored four tries in the space of nine minutes three of which went to flying winger Marland Yarde who looked like he’d give Usain Blot a run for his money. When England’s No 8 Jack Clifford scored directly from one restart the writing was in the wall and, after a brief pause to regain their breath, England grabbed another penalty try for good measure before the half-time break.

Every mistake by the home side was ruthlessly punished. Fullback Sam Hidalgo-Clyne missed touch to gift England the possession to launch a counter-attack that ended under the Scottish posts. It was a mistake that the Scots repeated time and again with flyhalf Leonard more guilty than most. Instead of taking the pace out of the game they gifted England both possession and the time and space to use it. The Scots desperately needed to take the sting out of this game but such was the relentless pace of the action that even the poor referee needed to be replaced around the half-hour mark.

Tackling was also an optional extra. Yarde is quick and strong but for each of his tries the Scots played their part by missing tackles be it on the speedy winger or some other body in the build up.

It wasn’t so much the discrepancy in size and strength between the forward packs, that was only to be expected, but the gap in power and skills between the two back lines was a yawning chasm that effort alone, no matter how heroic, was never going to bridge. But there were a few positives to be gleaned from the Scottish performance. The backrow trio worked tirelessly and the lineout functioned as it should. Jamie Farndale popped up on the “wrong” wing and split the defence early on and had he spotted Tom Steven lurking on the outside the Scots may have grabbed a morale boosting early try. Tommy Allan showed up well in defence which was just as well since he had plenty to do.

Scotland started the second half as they had done the first, helped by a yellow card for England’s influential No 8 Clifford, with a spell of pressure in the opposition red zone but the short-handed defence held firm and normal service was soon resumed with England’s replacement fullback Anthony Watson diving over on 53 minutes.

The visitors eventually ran in a total of nine tries in all as the match was reduced to a rout with flyhalf George Ford adding seven conversions to claim the man of the match award and give England the most comfortable of victories.

Scorers: Scotland: Pen: Leonard. England: Try: Yarde (3), Clifford (2). Pen: Try, Watson, Walker (2). Conv: Ford (7).

Scotland U20: Hidalgo-Clyne, Farndale, Crawley, T Allan (Russell 71 min), Steven; Leonard, Steele (McConnell 54 min); Hislop (Bhatti 68 min), Scott (Turner 49 min), A Allan (Cessford 68 min), Gray (Redmayne 60 min) Sinclair, Eadie, Bordill, Swanson (Reid 54 min).

England U20: Ransom (Watson 53 min) Yarde, Daly (Heathcote 64 min), Mills, Walker; Ford, Robson, Cowan-Dickie (Hepburn 60 min), Britton, Sinckler (Harrison 60 min), Price, Merrick, Kvesic (Day 64 min), Walker, Clifford (Stooke 75 min).

Referee: D Philips (IRFU). Attendance: 2,197.