Scotland U20 secured arguably their greatest ever victory at that level, certainly their greatest in the U20 6 Nations as they beat the reigning Champions, and World Championship finalists, England 24-6 at Broadwood Stadium.
England arrived having won all eleven of the previous meetings between the two sides at U20 level, but Scotland played with an intensity that belied their years as they refused to yield to what is, in fact, a very promising young England U20 side.
Four tries were enough for the young Scots to wrap up a dominant victory, the pick of the bunch coming midway through the first half through full back Blair Kinghorn, who has 8 senior appearances for Edinburgh to his name.
Picking up a crossfield kick into the Scottish 22 from England fly half Joe Simmonds, Kinghorn arced his way into English territory before exchanging passes with Northampton Saints’ Rory Hutchinson and then accelerating away for a try that Stuart Hogg would have been proud of.
Simmonds landed penalties either side of that unconverted try though to give England a 6-5 lead, but it was to be the only time in the game that England would be ahead, with Leicester Tigers’ Charlie Thacker having an impressive half to help them get to that lead.
The game, at this stage, was about even. Scotland were simply monumental in defence and looked threatening every time they went wide, while England looked sharp whenever the ball reached the hands of Thacker at inside centre or Protheroe at full back, while their scrum was a work of art – not a penalty machine (though it won plenty) but a technical masterpiece, driving Scotland back with ferocity.
With the half drawing to a close, England were on the attack, but it was to be the hosts who would seize the moment, pouncing on an English mistake to allow Hutchinson to break away.
Caught just shy of the line, the immediate danger was over for England, but only because an infringement from skipper Jack Walker stopped any fast ball for Scotland.
The referee had no hesitation in waving his yellow card, and quick as a flash Scotland then had the ball on the move again, shifting it infield for loosehead Murray McCallum to drive under the sticks, allowing Kinghorn a simple conversion to give Scotland a well-earned 12-6 half time lead.
An early second half injury to England’s Joe Simmonds saw Mat Protheroe move up to fly half, from where the young Gloucester man showed exactly why he was so highly regarded as a schoolboy. The former Hartpury College pupil looked a threat whenever he had the ball, and while not always 100% accurate, he was the hub around which everything England did originated.
Unfortunately for England though, what they had to do was get past that Scottish wall of a defence, and in particular the breakdown skills of Edinburgh blindside Jamie Ritchie and Glasgow openside Matt Smith. Both are probably natural opensides, but dovetailed brilliantly and stifled English ball all night long, tackling low and winning a series of penalties.
One such penalty midway through the second half brought about Scotland’s third try as scrum half Hugh Fraser took a quick tap penalty in the English 22, launching a series of attacks from which Scotland skipper Scott Cummings, outstanding all night, crashed his way over.
Kinghorn missed his conversion, but there was a sudden sense that there was a mental shift at this point from Scotland simply leading the game to Scotland believing that they could and would win the game.
If they thought it at 17-6 up, they must have been near-certain midway through the half when Matt Smith earned himself a deserved try, and his side an equally deserved fourth.
Exploding from a maul on the 22, set up from a lineout that followed a penalty that Smith himself had won at the breakdown, he accelerated away from the defence to score a memorable try for his country.
Kinghorn landed the extras to send Scotland 24-6 ahead, a score few on either side of the border would have predicted at the start.
England had the bulk of the possession and territory for the rest of the half, but never looked likely to alter the result, a combination truly outstanding Scottish defence and some poor handling at times stymying any attacking threat.
Fittingly it was the outstanding Kinghorn who was to eventually boot the ball from play to signal the end of a game, and to mark what is a memorable and historic Scotland U20 victory.
England will be frustrated with themselves, they are not accustomed to being comprehensively beaten, especially at this level. However they have a talented group of players who will almost certainly bounce back in style through the rest of the tournament.
For Scotland, the sights will have been raised. Could they better their best ever finish in the U20 RBS 6 Nations, last year’s 3rd place? After their greatest U20 6 Nations result, they must think so.
Full Time: Scotland U20 24-6 England U20
Elsewhere in the U20 RBS 6 Nations France got off to an absolute flyer, beating Italy U20 40-0, while over in Donnybrook Ireland and Wales played out an absolute thriller. Wales took the spoils, 35-24, with captain Tom Phillips leading the charge, but it was a tremendous game from both sides, played at a standard that would not have looked out of place at a more senior level.
Next week England get a chance at redemption as they travel to play Italy, meanwhile Wales and Scotland play what is now one of the biggest games of the tournament as they try to repeat tonight heroics, while Ireland travel to France for the late kick off.
15 Mathew Protheroe (Gloucester Rugby)
14 George Perkins (Saracens)
13 Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
12 Charlie Thacker (Leicester Tigers)
11 Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby
10 Joe Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
9 Max Green (Yorkshire Carnegie)
1 Tom West (Wasps)
2 Jack Walker (Yorkshire Carnegie, captain)
3 William Stuart (Wasps)
4 Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors)
5 Stan South (Harlequins)
6 Archie White (Harlequins)
7 Josh Bainbridge (Yorkshire Carnegie)
8 Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons)
16 Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors)
17 Jake Pope (Sale Sharks)
18 Billy Keast (Exeter Chiefs)
19 Andrew Kitchener (Worcester Warriors)
20 Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby)
21 Jamie Shillcock (Worcester Warriors)
22 Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins)
23 Taylor Prell (Yorkshire Carnegie)
15 Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby)
14 Darcy Graham (Hawick)
13 Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints)
12 Tom Galbraith (Melrose)
11 Robbie Nairn (Harlequins)
10 Adam Hastings (Bath Rugby)
9 Hugh Fraser (Heriot’s)
1 Murray McCallum (Heriot’s)
2 Jake Kerr (Boroughmuir)
3 Callum Sheldon (Leeds Beckett University)
4 Andrew Davidson (Glasgow Hawks)
5 Scott Cummings (Glasgow Hawks, captain)
6 Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby)
7 Matt Smith (Glasgow Hawks)
8 Ally Miller (Melrose)
16 Lewis Anderson (Ayr)
17 George Thornton
18 Adam Nicol (Stirling County)
19 Callum Hunter-Hill (Stirling County)
20 Scott Burnside (Boroughmuir)
21 Charlie Shiel (Currie)
22 George Taylor (Melrose)
23 Ben Robbins (Currie)