Brave Scots edged out by England at Myreside

Scotland just didn’t quite have the poise when they enjoyed long periods of territorial ascendancy to overturn England in a closely-fought under-20 international at Myreside tonight.

Before a crowd in excess of 3,000 spectators, Scotland showed good technique at scrum and in driving lineout but were left to rue missed opportunities and, like they had in Ireland last week, had to be content with a losing bonus point.

England, whose bench exerted greater influence, scored three tries to two but it was their ability to close out the game that was of greatest bearing as they followed up their victory against their French counterparts last week.

Scotland kicked off through stand-off Nathan Chamberlain and the gargantuan Tuima made the first surge for England. However, at the maul, Scotland held up their opponents and were awarded the first scrum.

Here Scotland had a considerable nudge and were awarded the game’s first penalty but the option to go for a close-range lineout was over-cooked.

In England’s response, Dan blazed from breakdown and Scotland were caught offside but from 40 metres Vunipola missed a chance for the game’s first points.

Ollie Smith’s promptings were at the heart of much of Scotland’s early promise and Matt Currie also threatened, before a deliberate knock on gave Chamberlain a touch-finder into the England 22.

Nothing came from that attack but from a quick tap penalty by Roan Frostwick, England infringed anew. The penalty was under their posts about 12 metres out and Scotland opted for the scrum. England conceded another penalty – their fifth – and this time, Chamberlain goaled (3-0, 15 mins).

From the restart, it was penalty ping-pong, a soft one for the home team to concede. England went for lineout and manufactured a short-side opening for hooker Dan to slide in for the game’s first try. Vunipola converted (3-7, 17 mins)

In the 22rd minute Scotland hit back. From a fine lineout grab by Cameron Henderson, Scotland surged venomously from ten metres and the prolific Ewan Ashman at hooker crowned the drive with a try. Chamberlain struck a quality conversion (10-7, 23 mins).

As half-time neared England found width on the right and then attacked left for their forwards to release the intruding full-back Steward for the try. Vunipola converted (10-14, 38 mins).

Scotland restarted purposefully and again opted for a scrum when England were penalised inside their 22.

Forward pick and go saw Scotland held up over their opponents’ line but from the scrum five Scotland, on the advance, were penalised by the French referee. Quel domage!

England were put under the cosh as Scotland continued to opt for touchline rather than the posts as the penalty count mounted. Eventually as a drive was thwarted illegally the referee headed under the posts and awarded a penalty try. (17-14, 57 mins).

He also yellow carded England lock Donnell and Scotland enjoyed the territory in the next ten minutes but could not find a way to add to their total.

Into the final ten minutes and from a lineout “not straight” call, England attacked and Doherty barrelled over for their third try. Vunipola converted. (17-21, 72 mins).

The stand-off then pushed an angled penalty wide but England were playing the game in the areas of greatest comfort for them.

Full-time: Scotland U20 17 England U20 21

Player of the Match: Manu Vunipola (England)

Scotland U20: Ollie Smith (Ayrshire Bulls)*; Harry Paterson (Heriot’s Rugby)*, Matthew Currie (Watsonians Rugby)*, Robbie McCallum (Boroughmuir Bears)*, Jacob Henry (Southern Knights)*; Nathan Chamberlain (Hartpury College/Bristol Bears), Roan Frostwick (Watsonians Rugby)*; Thomas Lambert (Sydney University), Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks), Mak Wilson (Southern Knights), Kieran Watt (Watsonians Rugby), Cameron Henderson (Stirling County)*, Jack Hill (Durham Univ), Connor Boyle (Watsonians Rugby)*, Rory Darge (Southern Knights)* CAPTAIN.

Subs: Rory Jackson (Watsonians Rugby)* for Ashman (78 mins), George Breese (Stirling County)*for Wilson (63 mins), Alex Maxwell (Stourbridge) for Lambert (69mins), Jamie Campbell (Biggar)* for Watt (57 mins), Gregor Brown (Boroughmuir Bears)* for Hill (51 mins), Kyle McGhie (Boroughmuir Bears)* for Frostwick (56 mins) Cameron Scott (Boroughmuir Bears)*, Max Priestly (Glasgow Hawks) for Paterson (78 mins).

* denotes member of FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy

England U20: Freddie Steward; Gabriel Hamer-Webb, Connor Doherty, Max Ojomoh, Tom Roebuck; Manu Vunipola, Sam Maunder CAPTAIN; James Whitcombe, Theo Dan, Harvey Beaton, George Hammond, Ben Donnell, Richard Capstick, JJ Tonks, Rusi Tuima.

Subs: Ben Atkins for Dan (63 mins), Emmanuel Iyogun for Whitcombe (68 mins), Luke Green for Beaton (56 mins), Hugh Tizard for Hammond (59 mins), Josh Gray for Tonks (67mins), Jack Van Poortvliet for Maunder (56 mins), George Barton for Ojomoh (67 mins), Ollie Sleightholme for Hamer-Webb (56 mins)

Referee: Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy (France). Assistant referees: Jonathan Dufort and Cederic Marchat (both France)

live commentary 7:30 PM Friday 7 Feb 2020

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