- England Counties U20 slip to narrow defeat on inaugural outing
- Scotland U20 Junior World Championship side push all the way
England Counties Under 20 15 Scotland Under 20 18
England Counties Under 20 may have suffered defeat in their inaugural game at West Park Leeds RFC at the hands of Scotland’s Junior World Cup Under 20 side, but they emerged with enough credits to ensure that this new strand of RFU representative rugby receives continued support.
Both sides scored two tries in a full-bloodied encounter in which the lead changed hands four times, Scotland snatching victory against the run of play with a try on 68 minutes and then defending valiantly at the death as England pressed hard for the win.
Fly half Stewart Edwards opened the scoring for the visitors after eight minutes with a finely struck 40-yard penalty and his kicking repeatedly repelled the home side during their early incursions into the Scots half.
England replied to the Edwards’ penalty after 18 minutes when a perfectly weighted chip by scrum half Sam Arnott bounced nicely for wingman Rueben Haile to gather and canter home, but Scotland hit back 10 minutes later through centre Danny Gilmour.
A crooked feed at a scrum, an additional 10 yards for talking and a smartly-taken free kick did the damage before full back Stuart Hogg ran well before slipping the scoring pass to Gilmour. England’s defence then held out when Scotland pressed hard through wing Kerr Gossman and the half closed with Hogg and fly half Aaron Penberthy both landing injury time penalties.
The resumption brought an increase in tempo from the home side and though they were still guilty of losing the ball against a robust Scotland defence, they were rewarded on the hour when hooker Ben Sowery drove over from close range for Penberthy to convert for a 15-11 England lead.
Though England continued to have the better of the game, the Scottish defence was tenacious and well-organised, while the threat presented by a pacy and powerful back division was obvious throughout.
Eventually it proved to be the cutting edge which brought victory. The visitors broke powerfully through the middle and when England found themselves over-committed, Hogg had pace to spare as he accelerated round the struggling defence for the match-winning try that was also converted.
England had a chance to rescue the game with a lineout on the Scotland line in injury time, but the visitors defended manfully to claim the prize.
Ross delighted with debut performance
"I think we saw an excellent performance by a side that was put together in two or three days, well-coached and well-prepared," said Counties Manager Malcolm Ross.
"Scotland have been together for a while and showed a bit more edge. Scotland were a good side and we saw an excellent game of rugby with some terrific football. I think they should all be very proud. They represented England extremely well."
Coach Bob Hood echoed the sentiments when he said: "I thought this was a really good start to the Counties Under 20s project. To come up against a side that is competing in the Junior World Cup with all the preparation they’ve had and do as well as they did has given this team real merit.
"We could have won the game with a bit more attention to detail and one or two different decision, so although we’re disappointed with the defeat, I’m pleased with the way the project has gone."
England Counties Under 20
Chris Surman (Loughborough University, South West & Gloucestershire); Jamie Harrison (Broughton Park, North & Lancashire), Peter Homan (Middlesbrough, North & Yorkshire), Elliott Brierley (Macclesfield, North & Cheshire), Reuben Haile (Cinderford, South West & Gloucestershire); Aaron Penberthy (Redruth, South West & Cornwall), Sam Arnott (Southend, South West & Gloucestershire); Tom Channon (Newton Abbot, South West & Devon), Ben Sowery (Wharfedale, North & Yorkshire), Matt Shields (Tynedale, North & Northumberland), Josh Beaumont (Fylde, North & Lancashire), Miles Normandale (University of Wales Institute Cardiff, Gloucestershire), Liam Wilkinson (UWE Bristol, South West & Gloucestershire), Joe Atkinson (Loughborough Un/Petersfield, London & SE & Hampshire), Ben Sparks (Stourbridge, South West & Gloucestershire) capt,
Replacements used: Tom Emery (Lydney, South West & Gloucestershire), Tom Harrison (UWE Hartpury, South West & Gloucestershire), Carl Kirwan (Middlesbrough, North & Yorkshire), Joe Pass (Derby, Midlands & Notts, Lincs & Derby), Brett Turner (Lydney, South West & Gloucestershire), Ben West (Newbury, South West & Berkshire), Andrew Murray (Nuneaton, Midlands & Warwickshire)
Scotland Under 20
S Hogg (Hawick/Glasgow Warriors); G Bryce (Heriots), S Atkin (Edinburgh Accies), D Gilmour (Stirling County), K Gossman (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks); S Edwards (Stirling County), S Kennedy (Stirling County); A Allan (Loughborough Un), R Ferguson (Melrose), C Philips (Stewarts Melville), M Todd (Nottingham), R McAlpine (West of Scotland), J Swanson (Boroughmuir), G Runciman (Melrose), J Tyas (Bath).
Replacements used: M Lyness (Edinburgh Accies), G Hunter (Glasgow Warriors), R Hislop (Edinburgh/Boroughmuir), M Eadie (Bristol), A Spence (Heriots), A Redmayne (Dundee HS), B Colvine (Melrose), C Jackson (Melrose), J Clark (Team Northumbria), H Mountain (Team Northumbria), J Forbes (Watsonians)
Referee: N Hennessy (WRU)