Improved Scots Outmuscled By England

A much-improved Scotland under-18 side were out-muscled by their English counterparts at Mansfield Park, Hawick, today (20-8).


A much-improved Scotland under-18 side were out-muscled by their English counterparts at Mansfield Park, Hawick, today (20-8).

After an unsettling opening 20 minutes, where England earned an eight-point lead, the young Scots adapted well to their opponents approach and finished the first half on a much more assured footing, earning a penalty to return to the changing rooms just five points adrift.

A try a piece in the second half seemed a fair share of the spoils in the second-half as Scotland seeked to play a fast–paced wide game against an increasingly direct and physical English pack.

Unfornately, with a score between the sides, that physicality told at scrum time with less than ten minutes left on the clock as number 8 Joel Conlon steered a 5m scrum to the try line before powering over for the decisive score.

Scotland U18 head coach, Eddie Pollock, said: “The boys put in a fantastic defensive effort here today. Our work rate and success rate to secure turnover ball was excellent.

“We put England under a lot pressure with our attacking style but we couldn’t retain possession for long enough periods to make the most of the periods of pressure.”

It was a challenging first quarter for the hosts who faced an England side who were testing their attacking armory against a resolute Scottish defence which held out until the 15-minute mark when they got the breakthrough.

Repeated English pick and goes on 5m line gradually wore down the Scottish defence and created enough space for scrum-half Callum Braley to snipe through and score.

Stand-off Sam Oliver’s conversion was just wide (5-0).

Scotland had done well to marshall England’s strong running wing and full-back combination of Zach Kibiridge and Nathan Earl who regularly tried to create overlaps on the short side however, up to this point, they had to work hard to achieve parity at the breakdown, with scrum-half Alex Glashan being snared by the England pack on a number of occasions.

To their credit, however, the young Scots were able to acknowledge and act on these difficulties, ensuring Glashan got the necessary protection he needed, while double tackling at the rucks slowed the English assault from short range attacks.

Their defensive effort was characterised by the difference in the second 20 minutes which began with England stand-off Sam Oliver’s rushed drop-goal, which marked the beginning of a tricky period for the visitors who found know way through with ball in hand.

Strong running from inside-centre Neil Herron and attacking guile from full-back Sam Pecqueur showed flashes of flair while man of the match winner Tommy Spinks and his front-row colleagues showed they were not shy of a carry or two.

ll this combined to great effect with some fine sweeping, running-rugby, forcing England to infringe at the ruck and concede a penalty in front of the stick which another impressive back, stand-off Callum Irvine, slotted.

It was becoming clear that with sustained possession, this team could do some damage.

HALF TIME: 3-8

England brought a much more direct approach to their second-half showing, using the wide channels as late options to midfield battering.

Credit is due to their efficiency and succes in this particular art as their second visit to the Scotland 5m line produced a try from back-row Ross Moriarty, who put the finishing touch on some strong England strides into Scotland’s 22.

Oliver added the extras to make the visitor’s lead more comfortable (3-15).

With Scotland chasing the game and the importance of giving players opportunity to showcase their talent ahead of the up and coming FIRA tournament, head coach Eddie Pollock introduced Ben Cooper and Grant McConnell at stand-off and full-back respectively.

The strength and power of the latter was a welcome sight as he strode inroads into the England back-line before the brightness and dynamism shown earlier by the Scots played out in full for their first try.

Tidy work from centres Herron and his outside partner Cameron MacKenzie-Lawrie created an overlap on the nearside touchline, putting Spinks through for a barnstorming burst between the 10 and five metre lines before offloading back inside to Lawrie-MacKenzie to dive over for the unconverted try (8-15).

With the match a score apart, England relied more and more on their route-one approach, a move characterised by the introduction of the 17 stone Daniel Hobbs-Awoyemi, an impact substitue in more ways than one.

With ten minutes remaining, the physicality told as a solid England scrum drove in the hard yards from the five metre line before Conlon got the winner.

FULL-TIME: 8-20

Scotland U18 next travel to Dublin to face Ireland in the last preparation fixture before the FIRA tournament in Madrid in two weeks' time.

Scotland U18 team: 15 Sam Pecqueur; 14 Ed Farquharson, 13 Cameron Mackenzie-Lawrie, 12 Neil Harron, 11 Shaun MacDonald; 10 Callum Irvine, 9 Alex Glashan CAPTAIN, 1 Darcy Rae, 2 Blair Jardine, 3 Chris Barnes, 4 Buchan Richardson, 5 Neil Irvine-Hess, 6 Tommy Spinks, 7 Robbie Tait, 8 Cameron Turner. Substitutes: 16 James Malcolm, 17 Ross Murray, 18 Phil Cringle on for Barnes, 19 Andrew McCrammond on for Irvine-Hess, 20 Murdo McAndrew, 21 Ramsay Young on for Glashan, 22 Ben Cooper on for Irvine, 23 Frankie Robson, 24 Chris Dean on for Tait, 25 Gavin Lowe, 26 Grant McConnell on for MacDonald

England U18 team: 15 Zach Kibiridge; 14 Josh Watkins, 13 Tom Stephenson, 12 Javiah Pohe, 11 Earle Nathan; 10 Sam Oliver, 9 Callam Braley; 1 Harry Rudkin, 2 Harry Thacker, 3 Scott Wilson, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Jake Oldaker, 6 Ross Moriarty, 7 Steve Uren, 8 Joel Conlon. Substitutes: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Danny Hobbs, 18 Alex Lundberg, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Josh Buggea, 21 Oliver Claxton, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Nick Carpenter

Man of the match: Tommy Spinks (Scotland back-row)

Scotland under-18 fixtures 2012
Scotland U18 12-19 Wales U18
Scotland U18 8-20 England U18
Sunday 25 March – Ireland U18 v Scotland U18, Coolmine, Dublin (kick-off 12 noon)
Friday 30 March to Saturday 7 April: Justin Bridout Trophy, Madrid