- Ford's three penalties the only reward at Kingston Park
- Saxons can't get over line despite dominating closing stages
England Saxons 9 Scotland A 13
England Saxons ran out of steam against a dogged line of tacklers and outstanding Scotland A defence at Kingston Park.
Photo: Getty Images
Leicester Tigers fly half George Ford’s three penalties hauled them back into the game after Duncan Taylor’s first minute try and a conversion and two penalties from Tom Heathcote.
But despite dominating long spells the Saxons couldn’t get over the try-line and somehow the Scots survived having two men sent to the sin bin in the closing minutes of their rearguard action.
The Saxons had made just two changes to their starting line-up, bringing in Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)on the wing and Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors) into the front row as they looked to build on their impressive 14-10 away from home against Ireland Wolfhounds a week earlier.
The Scots fielded a side with more experience in terms of age and caps in a game with several interesting sub-plots.
Saxons fly half Ford lined up against his former England Under 20 teammate Tom Heathcote, while Scotland A full back Greig Tonks had been part of the same England age group team as Quins centre Jordan Turner-Hall and Wasps scrum half Joe Simpson.
And everyone in the England camp wanted to take some degree of revenge for last year’s 35-0 defeat at Gala.
All that was put to one side, though, when the Scots got off to a dream start.
Ford’s kick out of defence was grabbed by Duncan Taylor who eluded England’s chasers then turned and galloped in from the 22.
Heathcote added a neat conversion, then the two fly halves traded shots at goal with two Ford efforts to one from his rival in increasingly treacherous conditions of strong wind and heavy rain.
The Saxons dominated the closing stages of the half but couldn’t find a way through – and Heathcote nudged the visitors further in front when they claimed a rare scrum penalty five minutes after the break.
England had grown in stature through the game in Galway despite leaving it until the last quarter to strike and they did the same here but simply couldn’t find a way through in lashing rain and swirling snow that made moving the ball wide a lottery.
Replacement wing Kyle Eastmond did force Tonks to carry the ball over his line with a neat run and kick and Ford then pulled the Saxons within four points with his 72nd minute penalty after another dominant scrum.
So it was all hands to the pumps now for the Scots as they lost two props to yellow cards
Gordon Reid went for pulling down a maul from a close-range lineout, then two more penalties were conceded at five metre scrums with Jon Welsh following Reid into the bin.
Any chance of a pushover or penalty try disappeared with the uncontested scrums that followed the sin-binnings, though, and a final Saxons handling error as they tried to get over allowed Scotland to celebrate a second successive win at this level.
England Saxons: Elliot Daly (London Wasps); Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Joel Tomkins (Saracens), Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), Tom Biggs (Bath Rugby); George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens); Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors), Joe Gray (Harlequins), Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton Saints), Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers), George Robson (Harlequins), George Kruis (Saracens), Will Fraser (Saracens), Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers, captain).
Replacements: Rob Buchanan (Harlequins) for Gray 15, Nick Wood (Gloucester Rugby) for Mullan 63, Kieran Brookes (Leicester Tigers) for Doran-Jones 70, Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers) for Kruis 70, Jamie Gibson (London Irish) for Fraser 73, Joe Simpson (London Wasps) for Wigglesworth 59, George Lowe (Harlequins) for Tomkins 45, Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby) for May 65.
Scotland A: Greig Tonks; Duncan Taylor, Alex Grove, Alex Dunbar, Nikki Walker; Tom Heathcote, Sean Kennedy; Alasdair Dickinson, Steven Lawrie, Jon Welsh, Tim Swinson, Tom Ryder, Stuart McInally, Richie Vernon, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Alun Walker, Gordon Reid, Robert McAlpine, James Eddie, Jamie Stevenson, Ben Cairns, Dougie Fife.