England U20 v Scotland U20
A bright start went unrewarded as Scotland U20 suffered a defeat to their English counterparts in the final match of the 2019 Six Nations at Franklins Gardens tonight (45-7).
England U20 held a narrow lead at the end of an entertaining first 40, courtesy of a two-tries-to-one advantage, which was matched by the same number of tries disallowed for either side by the TMO, such was the pressure exerted at either end.
The second-half was a wholly different affair however, as the young Scots’ efforts in the first half took their toll in the second, England upping the ante and running in five tries without reply.
Speaking candidly in the immediate aftermath, Scotland U20 Head Coach, Carl Hogg, said: "I thought we defended really well in the first half, but it was always going to take its toll. As I said to the boys afterwards, it’s like being in a boxing match where we tied our hands behind our back and allowed them to punch us for 80 minutes.
“I’m just disappointed that we didn’t fire any shots ourselves. We looked at resetting ourselves and giving ourselves a really good chance to come down here and perform at a level in line with the progression we showed in the France and Wales games, but we didn’t do that.
“We lost primary possession at set-piece and off strike we turned the ball over in the first two or three phases, I cant think of many instances where we got beyond three phases, and that’s the disappointing thing."
England went close to opening the scoring in the early exchanges courtesy of territory earned by some early set-piece dominance.
The white pack marched the scrum forward far enough to yield a penalty, which they kicked to Scotland’s 22.
The backs spun the ball wide to the near side and back again, eventually finding outside-centre Ollie Lawrence, who knocked on with a man-overlap at his mercy.
Just two minutes later, however, it was the Scots who were celebrating as centre Cameron Anderson latched on to a lofted miss-pass attempt from opposing centre Cameron Redpath at the half-way mark to race in to score. Stand-off Ross Thompson converted (0-7).
Unfortunately for Scotland that lead was cut short just four minutes later, much of which was their own doing, as they attempted to run the ball from within their 22 with some space on offer.
Credit to England who made their tackles in time and turned the ball over, immediately putting Scotland on the back foot.
The ball was quickly shipped wide as the men in blue back-pedalled, offering quick-footed England full-back Tom de Glanville the option to cut back in and race over the line.
England stand-off Manu Vunipola (cousin of England seniors Mako and Billy) levelled matters with the conversion (7-7).
England then had their first of two tries disallowed as the TMO spotted the ball bounced on the touchline before being collected by wing Aaron Reid on his way to the line.
Vunipola then missed a penalty attempt before the TMO was once again called upon to intervene after Lawrence got on the end of a sweeping England move and barged toward the Scottish line, where he was brought down by a tenacious covering Scottish defence.
Lawrence did enough to cross the but only, it transpired, thanks to a double movement.
The Scots’ work rate continued to impress, allowing them to find a leveller for the Englishmen’s natural physicality, earning a succession of penalties but then, frustratingly, undoing the hard work with a succession of corresponding lost lineouts.
It was then the turn of the TMO to intervene for the final time of the half, this time on Scotland's efforts on the English line.
A lovely snipe and break from the scrum-half Roan Frostwick saw him race in from the 22 to the 5m line but the attempted offload was the subject of a mid-air fumble between replacement lock Ross Bundy and Vunipola and, although Ross Thompson reacted well to dot down, the review showed Bundy knocked the ball on a fraction of a second before Vunipola, so it was ruled out.
And so the half looked set to finish, before blindside flanker Tom Willis was fed the ball from an England maul and forced his way over from short range for an unconverted score at the whistle.
Half-time: England U20 12-7 Scotland U20
In all the host’s racked up five second-half tries without reply, starting with man-of-the match winning back-row Aaron Hinkley and centre Cameron Redpath – who capitalised on a big break from the formidable Lawrence.
England U20 front-row replacements Alfie Petch (tighthead) and Alfie Barbeary (hooker) were the next to show the host’s power was a telling factor with a try each before the fifth and final score came as a sucker punch at the whistle.
In the closing exchanges Scotland threatened the England line as a kick through was chased well by wing Jack Blain, but England snatched possession, opening the door for Reed to run the length of the field unchallenged, Vunipola converting all but one of the second-half scores.
Full-time: England U20 (12) 45-7 (7) Scotland U20
England U20: 15. Tom de Glanville; 14. Ollie Hassell-Collins, 13. Ollie Lawrence, 12. Cameron Redpath, 11. Arron Reed; 10. Manu Vunipola, 9. Ollie Fox; 1. Kai Owen, 2. Samson Ma'asi, 3. Joe Heyes, 4. Alex Coles, 5. James Scott, 6. Tom Willis, 7. Aaron Hinkley,8. Rusiate Tuima. Substitutes: 16. Alfie Barbeary, 17. Olly Adkins, 18. Alfie Petch,19. Jon Kpoku, 20. Richard Capstick, 21. Gus Warr, 22. Kieran Wilkinson, 23. Josh Hodge.
Scotland U20: 15. Matt Davidson; 14. Rory McMichael, 13. Cameron Anderson, 12. Robbie McCallum, 11. Jack Blain; 10. Ross Thompson VICE-CAPTAIN, 9. Roan Frostwick; 1. Murphy Walker, 2. Ewan Ashman, 3. Euan McLaren, 4. Ewan Johnson, 5. Cameron Henderson, 6. Charlie Jupp, 7. Connor Boyle CAPTAIN 8. Jack Mann. Substitutes: 16. Angus Fraser on for Ashman (48’), 17. Andrew Nimmo on for Walker (75’), 18. Will Hurd on for McLaren (75’), 19. Ross Bundy on for Henderson (27’) reversed (33’), on for Mann (33’), 20. Teddy Leatherbarrow on for Bundy (66’), 21. Murray Scott on for Frostwick (75’), 22. Nathan Chamberlain on for Smith (69’), 23. Ollie Smith on for McCallum (26‘).
live commentary 7:45 PM Friday 15 Mar 2019
Roan Frostwick9. Scrum half
Ross Thompson10. Flyhalf
Jack Blain11. Left Wing
Robbie McCallum12. Inside Centre
Cameron Anderson13. Outside Centre
Rory McMichael14. Right Wing
Matt Davidson15. Full Back
Murphy Walker1. Loosehead
Ewan Ashman2. Hooker
Euan McLaren3. Tighthead
Ewan Johnson4. Lock
Cameron Henderson5. Lock
Charlie Jupp6. Blindside Flanker
Connor Boyle7. Openside Flanker
Jack Mann8. Number 8