England U18 beat Scotland U18 39-27 at Kingston Park yesterday evening as both sides warm out for the European Championships at the end of the month.
It was an exciting game, with ten tries scored in total in what was a feast of running rugby on the artificial surface at the home of Newcastle Falcons.
England scored six tries, including a try a piece for each of their dangerous back three, all of whom have lit up the schools rugby scene this year as full backs for their school sides.
Millfieldâ€™s Darren Atkins, starting on the right wing, was the first of this top class back three to get on the scoresheet, showing a clean pair of heels to hit back after Scotland had taken the lead through a top class full back of their own, Edinburgh Academyâ€™s Saul Melvin Farr.
Sedberghâ€™s Jonny McPhillips, starting at full back, then got in on the act, scoring the first points of his personal twelve point haul, before his Newcastle Falcons teammate Joe Craggs, of Gosforth Acadmey added a third try in quick succession.
The back three scoring was complete shortly after when Wellington Collegeâ€™s Sam Aspland-Robinson, starting on the left wing, crossed the line to put England 22-5 ahead after just twenty minutes, leaving Scotland staring down the barrel somewhat.
This appears to be a determined crop of Scottish youngsters though, and while the end result will feel like yet another plucky defeat for supporters in blue, their resilience at 22-5 down so early on was admirable.
They scored two quick tries to bring the scores to a far more respectable 22-17 at half time, the first and interception for Hawick High School winger Darcy Graham, the second a brusing forward effort from his school and clubmate Fraser Renwick after some solid pressure from the Scots.
Scotland would have been desperate for the first score of the second half, however it was England who were to get on the scoresheet first, though their fly half and captain, Theo Brophy-Clews, as he ghosted through a gap following some good phase play. The Abingdon and London Irish stand off would have been having an oddly familiar afternoon, his schoolmate Michael Dewar was at openside for Scotland, tasked with putting the England man under pressure.
Scotland came back though, standoff Blair Kinghorn slotted a penalty before the Edinburgh Academy man scored a beauty of a try, lofting the ball over the English defence before regathering on halfway and then showing outstanding pace to evade the English cover to score in the corner, closing the gap to just 29-27 and putting an upset firmly on the cards.
England showed great composure and maturity thereafter though, controlling the tempo, possession, and territory before eventually releasing Prince Henryâ€™s Grammar School prop Charlie Capps, on as a replacement, to score.
McPhillips converted and then scored a late penalty to take England lead beyond a single score, closing out the game in a thoroughly professional manner.
Speaking after the game England forwards coach Peter Walton was delighted, saying:
Â â€œWeâ€™re delighted to get the win, and to score some excellent tries. We knew it would be a quick game and that both sides would give it a go, so to put in a performance like that was really pleasing. The exciting thing is that thereâ€™s loads more to come from these guys. Theyâ€™ve not had too many training sessions together but thereâ€™s a real unity and team spirit and itâ€™s great to see.â€
Scotland U18 Head Coach, Eddie Pollock, was equally proud of his own sideâ€™s efforts though, saying:
â€œWeâ€™re pleased with the way the boys played tonight, and there are a lot of positives we can take from this performance. A couple of errors in defence early on meant we leaked a couple of tries yet we showed real character and pride to bring ourselves back into the game.â€
â€œWe took them on up front and had the confidence to have a go out wide, which is fantastic to see. It really shows how tight an affair it was when they had to continually kick goals in the last part of the game to claim the win.â€
Full Time: England U18 39-27 Scotland U18
England U18 XV
15 Jonny McPhillips (Newcastle Falcons, Sedbergh School)
14 Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby, Millfield School)
13 Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie, Prince Henry’s)
12 Max Malins (Saracens, Felsted)
11 Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins, Wellington College)
10 Theo Brophy Clews (London Irish, Abingdon School, captain)
9 Jack Maunder (Exeter Chiefs, Blundells School)
1 Jake Pope (Sale Sharks, Myerscough College)
2 Dan Frost (Bath Rugby, Filton College)
3 Jack Stanley (Exeter Chiefs, Truro College)
4 Josh Caulfied (Exeter Chiefs, Bicton College)
5 Tim Cardall (Northampton Saints, Moulton College)
6 Joe Craggs (Newcastle Falcons, Gosforth Academy)
7 Will Allman (Northampton Saints, Trent College)
8 Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby, Merchiston Castle School)
16 Joe Mullis (Gloucester Rugby, Chosen Hill)
17 Ollie Dawe (Exeter Chiefs, Bicton College)
18 Charlie Capps (Yorkshire Carnegie, Prince Henry’s)
19 Archie White (Harlequins, Epsom College)
20 William Evans (Leicester Tigers, Wyggeston & QEI College)
21 Alexander Mitchell (Sale Sharks, Lymm HS)
22 Mark Dixon (Sale Sharks, Lymm HS)
23 Sam Yawayawa (Leicester Tigers, Wyggeston & QEI College)
Scotland U18 XV
15 Saul Melvin-Farr (Edinburgh Academy/Edinburgh Academicals)
14 Darcy Graham (Hawick High School/Hawick Wanderers)
13 Alastair Greig (Stewartâ€™s Melville College/Stewartâ€™s Meville)
12 Connor Eastgate (Henley College/Wasps)
11 Robbie Nairn (George Watsonâ€™s College/Currie)
10 Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Academy/Edinburgh Academicals)
9 Jamie Troup (Strathallan School)
1 Adam Nicol (Dunfermline)
2 Fraser Renwick (Hawick High School/Hawick Wanderers)
3 Fergus Bradbury (Merchiston Castle School)
4 Hamish Bain (George Watsonâ€™s College/Currie)
5 Callum Hunter-Hill (Stewartâ€™s Melville College)
6 Alexander Craig (Hartpury College/Gloucester)
7 Michael Dewar (Abingdon School/Wasps)
8 Bruce Flockhart (Strathallan School/Highland)
16 Jack Solman (Sedbergh School)
17 George Thornton (Moulton College/Market Harborough)
18 Blair Robertson (Kelso Harlequins)
19 Andrew Grant-Suttie (Loretto School/North Berwick)
20 Matthew Fagerson (Strathallan School)
21 Charlie Shiel (Royal High School/RHC Cougars)
22 Grant Huggan (Hawick Wanderers)
23 Craig Pringle (Loretto School/Melrose)