On a stunning day in the World Rugby U20 Championships, England rounded things off in the final game of the day in style, beating Scotland 44-0.
It was a stunning and clinical performance from the hosts at the Manchester City Academy Stadium, against a side, let’s not forget, that beat them in the U20 RBS 6 Nations and then beat Australia in the first round of these Championships on Tuesday.
That victory earlier in the week perhaps cost Scotland though. Four of the key players from that victory, including man of the match Darcy Graham and fly half Adam Hastings, were missing through injury. The loss of those players seemed to really hurt the Scots who looked a little short of direction and made far too many basic handling errors throughout the game.
Take nothing away from England though, they were magnificent, and now look set to qualify as the top seeds if the final round goes to form. Scotland now cannot top the group, while Australia are four points behind England so must beat England on Wednesday with a bonus point in order to usurp the host nation at the top of the pool.
The top side in each pool qualifies for the semi finals, with the best second placed side also going through. As things stand, England, Argentina, and Ireland top the pools, after stunning wins for Argentina, over South Africa, and particularly Ireland, who astonished the entire competition by beating New Zealand 33-24.
Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand all sit third in their pools on what was a bad day for Southern Hemisphere rugby, with South Africa and New Zealand losing here, Australia losing to England in Brisbane in the senior side, and a 14 man Ireland senior side beating South Africa.
England took their time to break the Scots down, Blair Kinghorn missed a couple of early penalties for Scotland before Harry Mallinder, on fine form again, but England ahead on 9 minutes with a penalty of his own.
It was around the twenty minute mark that England really started to flow though, first scoring a penalty through Mallinder again, before skipper Jack Walker scored a try. It was a try borne out of England’s great strength on the night, the scrum. Every scrum, it seemed, brought an England penalty, and with this one Mallinder stuck the ball in the corner for Walker to throw in and set up the maul, which he expertly finished off.
Mallinder, naturally, converted, giving England a 13-0 lead that they carried through to the half-time break.
Both sides made a raft of substitutions at the break, but if anything England’s momentum was building further and further, and as the clock ticked past the fifty minute mark, they cut loose in stunning style.
Joe Marchant made a half break just inside his own half, releasing Harlequins teammate and former Wellington College star Sam Aspland-Robinson to scorch away. He in turn found Bath’s Darren Atkins who showed the sort of speed and trickery that made him the hottest schoolboy property during his Millfield days, before offload brilliantly to Will Evans.
Evans has been on Eddie Jones’ watchlist, and it is no surprise why, he was magnificent and claimed the man of the match award here this evening. His support line to capitalise on the Atkins offload was out of the Josh Kronfeld playbook, and his finish gave his side a 20-0 lead once Mallinder had nailed the touchline conversion.
Almost from the kick off England were scoring again, with Atkins once more showing his pace before England recycled possession and Aspand-Robinson again went down the right, this time releasing London Irish’s Johnny Williams who finished in style for 27-0 with the Mallinder conversion.
Scotland managed to stem the tide for a period, and threatened the England line for a while, but with 5 minutes to go, England secured that all important bonus point as they worked their driving maul move again, with Jack Singleton, on for Walker, scoring his second try of the competition.
Ex Felsted man Max Malins converted and then landed a penalty a couple of minutes later, having replaced Mallinder, before finishing his cameo off with arguably the try of the day in the last play as he scorched through half a gap just inside his own half, showing superb pace to break away before usinghis momentum to help him cross the line. All that remained was the icing on the cake, which he duly supplied to give England a remarkable 44-0 victory.
It was truly an excellent performance from England, who bear almost no resemblance to the side who looked so shaky and short of confidence during the 6 Nations. Indeed at this stage there is a compelling case to be made that England are the favourites here. Certainly they have scored the most points, though given Ireland’s second half against Wales and brilliant game against New Zealand, they may have a case, so too Argentina.
Either way, this U20 World Championship is certainly lighting up, and England are a big part of that. Now attention turns to Wednesday and the Australia game at the AJ Bell.
Will England follow the lead of their senior side in Brisbane today? If they do, that favourites tag might just become theirs for sure. For Scotland, they must recover fast and get back on the horse against Italy. This still has the opportunity to be their best ever Junior World Championship, but they must not allow this defeat to bury them.
Full Time: England U20 44-0 Scotland U20
England U20 XV
15 Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby)
14 Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins)
13 Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
12 Johnny Williams (London Irish)
11 Matt Gallagher (Saracens)
10 Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints)
9 Max Green (Yorkshire Carnegie)
1 Tom West (Wasps)
2 Jack Walker (Yorkshire Carnegie, captain)
3 Billy Walker (Saracens)
4 Stan South (Harlequins)
5 Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors)
6 George Nott (Sale Sharks)
7 Will Evans (Leicester Tigers)
8 Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons)
16 Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors)
17 Lewis Boyce (Yorkshire Carnegie)
18 Will Stuart (Wasps)
19 Andrew Kitchener (Worcester Warriors)
20 Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby)
21 Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby)
22 Max Malins (Saracens)
23 Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)
Scotland U20 XV
15 Ben Robbins (Currie)
14 Robbie Nairn (Harlequins)
13 George Taylor (Melrose)
12 Tom Galbraith (Melrose)
11 Cameron Gray (Currie)
10 Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby)
9 Hugh Fraser (Heriot’s)
1 Dan Ekington (Melrose)
2 Jake Kerr (Boroughmuir)
3 Callum Sheldon (Leeds Beckett University)
4 Callum Hunter-Hill (Stirling County)
5 Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors, captain)
6 Scott Burnside (Boroughmuir)
7 Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby)
8 Ally Miller (Melrose)
16 Lewis Anderson (Ayr)
17 George Thornton (Bishop Burton College)
18 Murray McCallum (Heriot’s)
19 Andrew Davidson (Newcastle Falcons)
20 Matt Smith (Glasgow Hawks)
21 Charlie Shiel (Currie)
22 Matt McPhillips (Currie)
23 Reuben Norville (Hartpury College)
World Rugby U20 Championship Round 2 Results:
New Zealand 24-33 Ireland (Pool A)
Wales 10-9 Georgia (Pool A)
Australia 38-10 Italy (Pool B)
England 44-0 Scotland (Pool B)
France 46-14 Japan (Pool C)
South Africa 13-19 Argentina (Pool C)
World Rugby U20 Championship Fixtures:
Wednesday 15th June
Scotland v Italy (Pool B, Manchester City Academy Stadium, 15.15)
Argentina v Japan (Pool C, AJ Bell, 15.15)
Ireland v Georgia (Pool A, Manchester City Academy Stadium, 17.30)
New Zealand v Wales (Pool A, AJ Bell, 17.30)
South Africa v France (Pool C, Manchester City Academy Stadium, 19.45)
England v Australia (Pool B, AJ Bell, 19.45)
Monday 20th June – Semi Finals Day (Pool Winners and best runner up compete in semi finals, next two runners up and top two third place in 5th – 8th seeding games, three pool losers and worst third placed side in 9th – 12th seeding games)
Saturday 25th June – Finals Day
|World Rugby U20 Championship – Pool A Standings|
|World Rugby U20 Championship – Pool B Standings|
|World Rugby U20 Championship – Pool C Standings|