England U18s began their 2014 season with a 28-6 victory over Scotland at Dlaziel Park in Motherwell this weekend.
Two late England scores gave the scoreline a decisive look that it perhaps had not warranted, though there is no doubt that England played very well.
Depsite only garnering 6 points from the game, both from first half penalties from Millfieldâ€™s Adam Hastings, Scotland had reason to be fairly pleased with their efforts, with Head Coach Eddie Pollock saying:
â€œI thought that the effort from the whole team was fantastic today. We put them under real pressure, but we were punished for making two errors in the last five minutes, where they turned over and scored at the other end.â€
â€œYou have to give England credit for their performance, for their ambition and the way they can score from anywhere on the field, however those scores came off our errors today.â€
â€œWe played some really good rugby. Iâ€™m very proud of the players. Weâ€™ve got a decent squad here and Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™ll improve from this experience.â€
As Pollock alluded to though, it was Englandâ€™s ability to score tries from anywhere that was the big difference between the sides. Things had been somewhat nip and tuck before a bullish England maul entered Scottish territory and then Peter Symonds Collegeâ€™s fly half, Joe Marchant sent in an inch perfect crossfield kick for Rotimi Segun of Stowe to score.
Again things remained tight though as Hastings and Rugby Schoolâ€™s Harry Mallinder exchanged penalties to send England into half time 11-6 up.
Things remained equally tight in the early periods of the second half but there game exploded into life just shy of the hour mark when Sir Thomas Richâ€™s flanker, Sam Underhill pounced on some loose ball and showed truly outstanding pace to score â€“ having started on halfway.
A Mallinder conversion took the score out to 18-6 yet still Scotland came hammering away. However much like their senior counterparts, the Scots seemed unable to get that all important try when they had the chance and soon England were on the attack again and taking the game away from Scotland.
They scored first though Leicester Tigersâ€™ Charlie Thacker before some wonderful work from Mallinder sent Joe Marchant crashing over to leave the final score at Scotland U18 6-28 England U18.
With the FIRA/AER European Championships looming, England look in a strong position, as ever, to be able to lay a serious assault on the Championship. Scotland look in decent shape too though, and if they can convert pressure into points then they could surprise a few.
Full time: Scotland U18 (6) 6-28 (11) England U18
15Â Ruari Howarth, Â 14Â Ben Robbins, Â 13Â Adam Hastings, Â 12Â Josh Laird, Â 11Â Robbie Nairn, Â 10Â Rory Hutchinson, Â 9Â Hugh Fraser; Â 1Â Murray McCallum, Â 2Â Jake Kerr, Â 3Â Zander Fagerson, Â 4Â Stephen Ainslie, Â 5Â Andrew Davidson, Â 6Â Scott Burnside, Â 7Â Matthew Smith, Â 8Â Jamie Ritchie (captain).
Replacements: 16Â Lewis Anderson, Â 17Â Gary Robertson, Â 18Â Callum Sheldon, Â 19Â Lewis Wynne, Â 20Â Ally Miller, Â 21Â Andrew Manson, Â 23Â Reuben Norville.
Pen â€“ Hastings x2
15 George Perkins (Oaklands College), Â 14 Rotimi Segun (Stowe), Â 13 Lucas Slowik (Filton College), Â 12 Harry Mallinder (Rugby), Â 11 Kai Little (Hartpury College), Â 10 Joe Marchant (Peter Symondsâ€™ College), Â 9 Jack Maunder (Blundellâ€™s); Â 1â€¨Lewis Boyce (Prince Henryâ€™s Grammar School), Â 2 Jack Walker (Prince Henryâ€™s Grammar School), Â 3 Jack Stanley (Truro College), Â 4 Stanley South (Whitgift), Â 5 George Nott (Kingâ€™s School, Chester), Â 6 Sam Smith (Old Swinford Hosptial), Â 7 Sam Underhill (Sir Thomas Richâ€™s), Â 8 Will Safe (Hartpury College).
Replacements: 16 Ollie Adams (St Paulâ€™s Catholic College), Â 17 Owen Hills(Wyggeston & Queen Elizabethâ€™s), Â 18 Jack Spencer (Hartpury College), Â 19 Huw Taylor (Old Swinford Hospital), Â 20 Callum Chick (Gosforth Academy), Â 21 Alexander Mitchell (Lymm High School), Â 22 Charlie Thacker (Leicester Grammar School), Â 23 Taylor Prell (Giggleswick).
Tries â€“ Segun, Underhill, Thacker, Marchant
Con â€“ Mallinder
Pen â€“ Mallinder x2