Scotland U20s V England U20s
Scotland under-20 kick-started their Six Nations campaign with a historic win over their English counterparts, scoring four tries on their way to a 24-6 victory at their new home, Broadwood Stadium.
The victory was Scotland’s first ever win over England at under-20 level after 12 attempts, dating back to 2007. It was also the first time Scotland under-20 achieved four consecutive home wins, following on from the victories over Wales, Italy and Ireland in last year’s competition.
John Dalziel’s men went into the interval with a 12-6 lead, with Blair Kinghorn and Murray McCallum both crossing the whitewash, while England’s points came through two Joe Simmonds penalties.
The home side carried their momentum into the second period, with Scott Cummings leading the charge with a try in the 55th minute, followed closely by his Glasgow Hawks colleague, Matt Smith, five minutes later.
The defensive effort was on par with Scotland’s scintillating attack, if not better, as they managed to hold off continual pressure from the opposition, and stop them from scoring any further points in the second-half.
Head Coach John Dalziel said: “Firstly, I’m really proud to watch a Scotland team defend like that for such large periods of the game, and to score four tries against a team like England, who have come off the back of three World Cup finals, is outstanding.
“We’ve got to start expecting this; we’re at home, we won three of our games last year, so it wasn’t a surprise to us that we were up at half-time.
“We had a game plan that we stuck to and played some great rugby, and, despite the fact we had a bit of a tough time at the scrum sometimes, I thought we adapted well after half-time.
“It’s a building block and we’ll continue building from now through to [the Junior World Championships] in June. We’ve got to take this group of players and keep improving them.
“We want to develop these guys and start pushing them into the national team in the next few years; that’s our objective for the under-20s.”
England were first on the scoreboard after nine minutes as stand-off Joe Simmonds put his side 3-0 up with a penalty following a ruck infringement from Scotland captain Scott Cummings.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Blair Kinghorn produced a moment of counter-attacking brilliance in the fifteenth minute, breaking from deep and linking up with Rory Hutchinson in the wide channels, who floated the ball back to Kinghorn to add the finishing touches and score to put his side in-front (5-3).
England regained the lead in the 37th minute as Simmonds struck his second successful penalty, yet Scotland went one better on the stroke of half-time when Murray McCallum came firing onto the ball to crash over from short-range. Kinghorn’s conversion extended the lead to give the boys in blue a 12-6 lead at the break.
Half-time: Scotland 12 - 6 England
England looked a different side as they came out the tunnel for the second-half, and started strongly, putting pressure on the Scotland defence, who had their backs against the wall, yet managed to stay solid under pressure.
Scotland soon made the transition from defence to attack, and proved clinical when close to England’s line, with Scott Cummings muscling his way through the opposition defence to score and widen the gap to 11 points in favour of the home side after 55 minutes (17-6).
Matt Smith was next on the scoresheet just five minutes later when made something out of nothing and seized his opportunity in catching the ball at the back of a lineout and exhibiting some real attacking nous to head for the line and dot down for the score.
Kinghorn’s excellent strike with the conversion gave his side a commanding 24-6 lead as the game entered the last quarter.
England controlled much of the possession and territory as the game drew to a close, but Scotland, despite a sizeable winning margin, refused to lie down and displayed true grit to stop the opposition from scoring further.