Scotland A claimed a sensational 35-0 victory over a strong England Saxons side at Netherdale on Friday night.
Fantastic work from the Scottish pack, particularly in the set piece, gave the backs plenty serviceable possession to conjure with, and boy did they make the most of it. Stuart Hogg, Duncan Weir, Rory Lawson and Matt Scott all crossed to register a fifth straight Scotland A triumph on the Galashiels ground.
The Hogg and Weir scores, both brilliantly contrived and executed individual efforts, will be the lasting images from a night where the hosts dominated from first to last and from front to back, in front of a boisterous and thrilled gathering of 4,124.
Michael Bradley’s side set the tone from the outset, getting the scoreboard moving in the third minute when Glasgow Warriors stand-off Weir drilled over a confident penalty awarded when England failed to roll away from the breakdown.
The points were just reward for some ambitious tactics from the Scots, who were quick to get the ball through the midfield to the strike runners in their back three.
The hosts also struck some early blows in the scrum, where the all-Glasgow front row of Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall and Ed Kalman stole a regular march on their opposite numbers to see Scotland A enjoy front foot ball, much to the delight of the Netherdale crowd.
The Borders public were on their feet shortly afterwards to salute a sensational score from Hogg, the full-back who hails from Hawick.
On the back of a quick free-kick, the 19-year-old burst through the first wave of English defence from inside his own half. Having got up a head of steam, he easily outpaced the cover to cross for a quite magnificent individual touchdown.
Weir converted to give Scotland A a 10-point lead after 17 minutes, but wasn’t quite as accurate with his next attempt from the Saxons’ 10m line soon thereafter.
The Scots were the more incisive team in both attack and defence, emphatically so from here on in. The Saxons enjoyed decent amounts of territory and possession in the second quarter, but couldn’t find much room for manoeuvre in a well-drilled Scottish defence where Hogg gave ample proof of his trustworthiness under the high ball.
Weir kicked Scotland A to a 13-0 half-time advantage just over a minute before the interval after the Saxons crept offside at a Scottish maul. Seconds before, Edinburgh centre Scott had opened up the visiting defence with a typically enterprising break, which ended with Saxons flanker James Gaskell sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle.
It was imperative that Scotland A didn’t give the Saxons any respite early in the second half, and this they accomplished with aplomb, stretching their lead with another brilliantly vivid individual score.
This time it was Weir earning all the plaudits, taking possession from captain Lawson and beating fully four men on his way to the English line from midway inside the visitors’ half.
The Cambuslang-born pivot converted his own score to make it 20-0, and soon picked up another three points from the tee as the Saxons infringed at a breakdown on the far left. Lock Ed Slater picked up a yellow card in the process, to reduce the visitors to 14 men for the second time in the match.
The slick Scots put the game well out of the Saxons’ reach just into the final quarter with decisive third and fourth tries in quick succession.
Another fantastic scrum (Kalman enjoyed a tremendous game on the tight-head) created scope for Lawson to go over in the right-hand corner, before the impressive Scott put the finishing touches to a further period of sustained possession deep in the Saxons 22. Weir converted to make it 35-0.
Scotland A: 15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); 14 Tom Brown (Edinburgh Rugby), 13 Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), 12 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), 11 Simon Danielli (Ulster); 10 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors), 9 Rory Lawson (Gloucester, captain); 1 Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), 2 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), 3 Ed Kalman (Glasgow Warriors), 4 Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors), 5 Tom Ryder (Glasgow Warriors), 6 Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby), 7 Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors), 8 Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks)
Substitutes used: 16 Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors), 17 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), 18 Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), 19 Roddy Grant (Edinburgh Rugby), 20 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), 21 Phil Godman (Edinburgh Rugby), 22 Peter Murchie (Glasgow Warriors)
England Saxons: 15 Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby); 14 Ugo Monye (Harlequins), 13 Dominic Waldouck (London Wasps), 12 Billy Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers), 11 Jonny May (Gloucester); 10 Ryan Lamb (Northampton Saints), 9 Ben Spencer (Saracens); 1 Nick Wood (Gloucester), 2 Chris Brooker (Harlequins), 3 Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton Saints), 4 Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers), 5 George Robson (Harlequins), 6 James Gaskell (Sale Sharks, captain), 7 Andy Saull (Saracens), 8 Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
Substitutes used: 16 Joe Gray (Harlequins), 17 Rupert Harden (Gloucester), 18 Kearnan Myall (Sale Sharks), 19 David Seymour (Sale Sharks), 20 Paul Hodgson (London Irish), 21 Freddie Burns (Gloucester), 22 Miles Benjamin (Worcester Warriors)
RBS Man of the Match: Duncan Weir (Scotland A)
Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU)