England Under-20 56-8 Scotland Under-20

Scotland under-20 became the latest victims of their all-conquering English counterparts at Newbury on Friday night, as a dominant display from the home pack proved too much for Peter Wright's men.

The Scots could point to a number of commendable individual performances, such as those from ever-improving centres Harry Leonard and Mark Bennett and openside Hamish Watson, but they struggled to match England's power in the scrum and physicality at the breakdown.

Scotland under-20 became the latest victims of their all-conquering English counterparts at Newbury on Friday night, as a dominant display from the home pack proved too much for Peter Wright's men.

The Scots could point to a number of commendable individual performances, such as those from ever-improving centres Harry Leonard and Mark Bennett and openside Hamish Watson, but they struggled to match England's power in the scrum and physicality at the breakdown.

Wright confirmed: "England are as good a side I've seen at under-20 level, they're a class apart from everyone else in the tournament and their size and pace told over the 80 minutes.

"We dug in well against quality opponents, and there were aspects of the display I was pretty happy with: Robert McAlpine gave us a really good platform in the lineout, the back-row boys stuck in to good effect, and the lads in midfield showed their potential once more.

"If we bring those elements back out again next week, and give ourselves more solidity in the scrum, I'm confident we'll finish the campaign in the right manner."

The team's final 6 Nations Championship fixture pits them against Italy at Bridgehaugh, Stirling on Friday 18 March (kick-off 7.30pm, admission FREE).

From the off in Newbury, it was clear just why Rob Hunter's England have enjoyed such success in the tournament to date.

The hosts took only four minutes to land the first try of the night, outside centre Elliot Daly showing excellent awareness and athleticism to anticipate a speculative cross kick from his fly-half, George Ford, and dot the ball down on the run before Kerr Gossman could intervene. The mightily effective Ford added the extras to cement England's positive start.

Scotland under-20 required some form of steadying influence, and after neat work from Bennett and Leonard, the Edinburgh Elite Development player was presented with the chance to claw three points back as English hands ventured into the ruck.

The Scots drew encouragement from this twist, stand-off Stuart Edwards giving them the opportunity to apply pressure to the England lineout with a delightful touch-finder from deep.

Robert McAlpine's clean set-piece take allowed the visitors to launch a driving maul before bringing the backs into play, but the momentum went out of the attack when Hamish Watson's pass to Bennett went marginally forward.

There was evidence that Peter Wright's players had heeded one of his key pre-match themes, namely the necessity of looking after the ball and generally prizing possession. The Scots refused to be rushed into making rash decisions, but also showed a willingness to inject pace and fluidity to their work through the use of well-judged offloads.

Bennett and Leonard were particularly impressive in this regard, the midfield men playing with both confidence and conviction.

Nonetheless, it was England who secured the next score, launching a devastating set-piece move which saw Worcester winger Andy Short power through a midfield gap, draw a couple of defenders before throwing a long, looping pass left to fellow wideman Christian Wade, who accelerated for the corner, sorted out his hands, and touched the ball down with aplomb. Ford again made no mistake with the conversion.

There was a further blow for the visitors minutes later as England again came away with a clinical try. This time it was clean lineout ball that set them on their way, Ford given time and space to dink ahead a menacing little kick that bounced underneath the Scottish posts and fell kindly for Daly to complete an individual brace of touchdowns.

Things went from bad to worse for Wright's side shortly before the half-hour mark when England pocketed a pushover try, No.8 and captain Alex Gray the man to finish off on the back of a huge shove from the front five.

Promisingly for the Scots, their pack were quick to demonstrate their own attacking menace, a punishing driving maul seeing them steadily advance towards the English line, where loosehead prop Robin Hislop did the necessary. Leonard couldn't add the extras, but Scotland had given clear warning that they weren't for going quietly.

This improvement from the visitors had the undesired effect of prompting England to up the ante once more. A period of brilliantly executed continuity play, peppered with intelligent recycling and offloads, climaxed in a score from Harlequins hooker Rob Buchanan, who had got himself over the line on a previous occasion only to be held up. 

HALF-TIME: ENGLAND UNDER-20 35-8 SCOTLAND UNDER-20

There was a lengthy delay to proceedings five minutes after the interval as London Irish forward Kieran Low fell awkwardly at a lineout and received lengthy medical attention before being stretchered from the field.

Scotland flew at England in the immediate aftermath of this hiatus, quick hands in midfield seeing the ball spread left to full-back Glenn Bryce, who looked well set to push on for the corner until Gray appeared to check him.

The game was much more even in this third quarter, Watson and back-row colleague James Tyas coming to the fore as the visitors sought to limit the influence of the English pack.

Watson's opposite number Matt Kvesic was sin-binned in the 56th minute after a number of petty home offences, and Scotland kept the pressure on through Leonard before working the blindside to positive effect.

Next to chance his arm was Bryce, who spun adroitly out of a tackle to take the ball deep into enemy territory, where the quick feet and brain of scrum-half Jamie Stevenson took over, only for a lack of composure to undo the Scots within sight of their opponents' line.

Maddeningly for the men from north of Hadrian's Wall, England went right up the park and scored, loose-head prop Mako Vunipola capping a series of close-range forward drives with his team's sixth score. Ford made sure to keep his 100% kicking record and thereby put the hosts 42-8 up.

Moments later, Scotland lost Watson to the sin bin for slowing the ball up using what referee David Jones deemed to be dubious means.

With the visiting side a man down, an already dominant England front eight were alive to the possibilities, and Gray duly broke off the base of a scrum to secure try number seven.

The numerical disadvantage didn't make life any easier for Scotland in defence, and another flowing move put Daly in at the left corner for his hat-trick. Ford sent his most difficult kick of the night sailing between the sticks to rub further salt into Scottish wounds.

England under-20: B Ransom; A Short, E Daly, O Farrell, C Wade; G Ford, D Robson; M Vunipola, R Buchanan, W Collier, J Launchbury, C Matthews, K Low, A Gray (captain), M Kvesic

Substitutes: K Britton, H Thomas, S Jones, M Everard, C Cook, J Elliott, J Joseph

Scotland under-20: G Bryce; M Doneghan, M Bennett, H Leonard, K Gossman; S Edwards, J Stevenson; R Hislop, D Cherry, G Hunter (captain), M Eadie, R McAlpine, A Spence, J Tyas, H Watson

Substitutes: R Ferguson, N Fraser, A Kirkland, M Todd, D Finnie, J Munro, S Atkin

Referee: David Jones (WRU)

Man of the Match: George Ford (England under-20)