A crowd of close-on 700 watched Scotland under-17 take on England at a glorious Greenyards this afternoon and though the home side were the first to score, the early promise wasn't sustained. Despite two impressive second-half tries, the visitors emerged 33-15 winners.
Head coach Peter Laverie said: "We had a strong start, the scrum was good but the lineout was a bit shaky all day. Then when we went down to 14 men [Main was yellow carded for shoulder barging] we made some costly errors and gave away two cheap tries. We didn't cover the width and it was an expensive first half for us."
Although the next 35 minutes brought impressive scores from stand-off George Horne and winger Ruaraidh Smith, it wasn't enough to make an impression. "There was some good stuff in the second half but we're left with a few 'what ifs' and the team is desolated by the loss," added Laverie.
AUDIO: Listen to Peter talk about the game, below, and click here for images of today's game
Click here to listen to Laverie:
Scotland enjoyed the early run of the ball, a great catch from kick-off and solid tackling as England pressed upfield. A good run from England centre Clark was halted by the Scots' defence, leading to turnover ball and a thumping kick to touch from stand-off George Horne. A subsequent English infringement resulted in a penalty, slotted successfully by stand-off George Horne to put the home side 3-0 up after five minutes.
Penalised for coming in at the side, the Scots were soon back in the England 22 with a drop goal attempt from scrum half Ben Vellacott going wide. A thundering run from Horne, followed by a deft flip pass to winger Ruaraidh Smith had the Scots worrying the England whitewash again, a near certain try attempt just held up on the line.
A shoulder barge from Karl Main saw the flanker yellow carded and Scotland down to 14 men. England stepped up their game and recorded two tries - from Clark and Clayton-Molloy - the first try converted by stand-off Sharp to put England 12-3 ahead. As Main returned to the field, England pushed their advantage with a third score, from Packman, also converted by Sharp to extend the lead to 19-3.
Scotland countered at the restart but failed to get back into their stride as Clark touched down for his second try, in the top corner, the score again converted by Sharp to extend England's lead by 23 points.
England made wholesale changes to their side at half time, employing all their substitutes, to three from Scotland, and it was the home side that posted the first score. Following a pause for a dislocated finger, the Scots played quick ball out to the wing and on to Horne who touched down in the top corner, going on to covert his own score from the touchline - 10-26.
As England began to make errors, the home side pressed the advantage, drawing major cheers from the crowd for a rolling maul as the pressed into the England 22; a fumbled pass led to turnover ball and advantage over, however.
A great tap and go from Vellacott was followed by an impressive break from Smith on the wing, dodging past four defenders and sending the opposition into some disarray. Frustration in the England ranks then led to the sin-binning of Sharp and Scotland the chance to reap the benefit of fifteen against fourteen. A frantic period of play led to a major assault into the England 22, much to the delight of the home support, and it was Smith who secured Scotland's second score, making it 15-26 with five minutes to go.
Although steady at the retart, some loss of focus in the closing minute gave England the chance to break and a final try, this time from substitute Wacokecoke with the extras added by Sharp, made the final score 15-33.
RBS Player of the Match: Ben Vellacott (Scotland)
15. Angus Rennie (Gordon Schools Huntly & Aberdeen Grammar)
14. Ruaraidh Smith (Oakham School & Northampton Saints)
13. Sean Mackle (Loretto & Boroughmuir)
12. Matthew Douglas (Hawick HS & Hawick YM)
11. Craig Rintoul (Strathallan & Howe of Fife)
10. George Horne (Strathallan & Howe of Fife) *
9. Ben Vellacott (Ivybridge College & Barnstaple)
1. Cameron Fenton (Strathallan & Howe of Fife)
2. Grant Stewart (Strathaven Academy & Dalziel)
3. Rory Mason (Ashfield & Paviors)
4. Matt Poole (George Watson’s College)
5. Nick Gray (Trent College)
6. Ruaridh Knott (Highland)
7. Karl Main (Dunbar GS & Dunbar)
8. Magnus Bradbury (Merchiston Castle School & Oban Lorne) * (Captain)
16. Ross Graham(Hawick PSA) (on for Stewart)
17. William Dineen (Dollar Academy & Stirling County)
18. Andrew McWilliam (Edinburgh Academy & Currie) (on for Mason)
19. Ewan Bulger (Arran HS & Ayr) * (on for Poole)
20. Rory Simpson (Edinburgh Academy) (used)
21. Ben Johnston (Marr) (used)
22. Luke Earle-Wright (Robert Gordon’s College & Deeside) (on for Douglas)
23. Alex Swan (Edinburgh Academy)
24. Archie Russell (Stirling County)
England under-17: 15 Louis Clayton-Molloy (Harrow School/London Wasps) 14 Tom Howe (Shiplake College/London Wasps) 13 Nick Tompkins (Oaklands College/Saracens) 12 Max Clark (Bryanston School/Bath) 11 Howard Packman (Moulton College/Northampton Saints) 10 Josh Sharp (Oaklands College/Saracens) 9 Stuart Townsend (Ivybridge CC/Exeter Chiefs); 1 Alfie Barron (Millfield School/Bath) 2 Jack Walker (Settle School/Leeds Carnegie) 3 Paul Hill (Prince Henry GS/Leeds Carnegie) 4 Charlie Hewitt (Ivybridge CC/Exeter Chiefs) 5 Jordan Onjoaife (Stowe School/Northampton Saints) 6 Matt Bolwell (Truro College/Exeter Chiefs) 7 Will Owen (Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth 1st/Leicester Tigers) 8 James Chisholm (Brighton College/Harlequins)
Substiitutes (all used): 16 Lewis Byce (MacMillan Academy/Leeds Carnegie) 18 Luke Chapman (Truro College/Exeter College) 19 Dan Grange (Prince Henry GS/Leeds Carnegie) 20 James Mitchell (Lymm School/Sale Sharks) 21 Richard Mathieson (St Pauls/London Wasps) 22 George Wacokecoke (St Joseph's College/Northampton Saints) 23 Ellis Genge (Hartpury College/Bristol Rugby) 24 Matt Beaty (Lancaster GS/Sale Sharks)