England secured the U20 6 Nations title with a 33-5 victory over Scotland and will travel to Dublin next week in search of the Grand Slam, much like their Seniors and Women.
The title was secured once news came through that Wales had beaten Ireland, 41-27, which meant that England were six points clear at the top of the table by the end of the night with just five to play for.
Things were far from easy for the reigning World U20 champions though, Scotland caused England all sorts of problems, with the likes of Darcy Graham and Matt Fagerson outstanding, but ultimately the depth of quality and pace at England’s disposal secured them the victory.
England dominated the opening quarter but Scotland’s breakdown spoiling stopped them making much progress on the scoreboard early on. 21 minutes in though England finally cracked the Scottish defence, with Saracens’ Jack Nay, the old Berkhamsted star, capitalizing on fast ball created by breaks from his clubmate Max Malins, and then man of the match Ben Curry, who now has two man of the match awards from two U20 appearances.
Malins converted for a 7-0 lead and it looked as though that might be the final score of the half as Scotland really dug in. England persevered though, and a moment of magic from captain and number 8 Zach Mercer, playing against a number of players he used to play with and against at school when at Merchiston Castle, saw his side score a second. With the clock in the red he charged down the left hand side, rounding two tacklers before offloading for Gloucester’s Harry Randall to score. Malins landed a beauty of a touchline conversion, sending his side in 14-0 up but knowing that there was plenty of work to be done.
Scotland would have been hoping to keep frustrating England in the second half, but they got off to the poorest of starts as they gifted England a score on 48 minutes. Will Butler charged down a poor Scotland kick, collecting it before England worked through the phases. Eventually it shifted wide to the left, where Tom Parton sent in a stunning pass for Saracens’ Dom Morris to dive over in the corner.
This Scotland side refused to give in though, and just two minutes later they were on the scoresheet themselves with a Darcy Graham try. England failed to deal with the kick off and Graham broke free. He was eventually forced down but as Scotland worked through the phases he came in off a line on the ruck to crash over for Scotland’s only points of the evening.
At this points though it felt like the game was still very much in the balance, and for twenty minutes the game remained as it was. With ten minutes left though, Scotland rather threw away their chance after spilling the ball in midfield. England hacked the ball through, and when Scotland fly half Josh Henderson slid to touch the ball down behind his tryline, it came off his knee and Zach Mercer dotted down for probably the easiest try of his life, also giving Malins a simple conversion for a 26-5 lead.
Scotland came back but a turnover from England sealed the game as Joe Cokanasiga and Mercer exchanged offloads down the right hand touchline for the fit again Theo Brophy-Clews to race away and score.
Malins added the gloss with the touchline conversion for a 33-5 victory, perhaps a flattering scoreline but a fine example of just how clinical this young group of England players can be.
Just a few minutes after the final whistle their Championship title was confirmed thanks to Wales, the reigning Grand Slam champions, beating Ireland 41-27. Fly half Ben Jones landed sixteen points with the boot, while inside centre Kieran Williams secured a brace of tries as his side crossed the whitewash five times.
France, meanwhile, had beaten Italy narrowly on Friday night, 18-13, and currently sit fourth, two points behind third placed Ireland and eight clear of Italy and Scotland in fifth and sixth.
U20 6 Nations Results:
England v Scotland
Italy 13-18 France
Wales 41-27 Ireland
|U20 6 Nations Table|
England U20 XV:
15 Tom Parton (London Irish), 14 Joe Cokanasiga (London Irish), 13 Dominic Morris (Saracens), 12 Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), 11 Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins), 10 Max Malins (Saracens), 9 Harry Randall (Gloucester), 1 Ollie Dawe (Bristol), 2 Curtis Langdon (Sale Sharks), 3 Ciaran Knight (Gloucester), 4 Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs), 5 Max Davies (Newcastle Falcons), 6 Jack Nay (Saracens), 7.Ben Curry (Sale Sharks), 8. Zach Mercer (Bath, captain).
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons), 17 Ralph Adams-Hale (Saracens), 18 Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs), 19 Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), 20.Josh Bayliss (Bath), 21 Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints), 22 Theo Brophy Clews (London Irish), 23.Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie).
Scotland U20 XV
15 Stafford McDowall (Ayr), 14 Robbie Nairn (Harlequins), 13 Ali Grieg (Bristol University), 12 Cameron Hutchison (Currie), 11 Darcy Graham (Hawick), 10 Josh Henderson (Glasgow Hawks), 9 Andrew Simmers (Heriot’s), 1 George Thornton (Bishop Burton College), 2 Fraser Renwick (Hawick), 3 Adam Nicol (Stirling County), 4 Alex Craig (Gloucester Academy), 5 Callum Hunter-Hill (Stirling County, captain), 6 Bruce Flockhart (Glasgow Hawks), 7 Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks), 8 Tom Dodd (Worcester Warriors).
Replacements: 16 Robbie Smith (Ayr), 17 Daniel Winning (Boroughmuir), 18 Fergus Bradbury (Stirling County), 19 Hamish Bain (Currie), 20 Jamie Ure (Boroughmuir), 21 Luke Crosbie (Currie), 22 Charlie Shiel (Currie), 23 Craig Pringle (Stirling County).
Wales U20 XV
15 Rhun Williams (Cardiff Blues), 14 Corey Baldwin (Scarlets), 13 Cameron Lewis (Cardiff Blues), 12 Keiran Williams (Ospreys), 11 Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets), 10 Ben Jones (Cardiff Blues), 9 Dane Blacker (Cardiff Blues), 1 Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues), 2 Corrie Tarrant (Cardiff Blues), 3 Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Blues), 4 Alex Dombrandt (Cardiff Met), 5 Sean Moore (Pontypridd), 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues), 7 Will Jones (c) (Ospreys), 8 Aled Ward (Cardiff Blues).
Replacements: 16 Owen Hughes (Newport Gwent Dragons), 17 Steff Thomas (Scarlets), 18 Chris Coleman (Newport Gwent Dragons), 19 Jack Pope (Bridgend), 20 James Botham (Cardiff Blues), 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams (Ospreys), 22 Phil Jones (Ospreys), 23 Ioan Nicholas (Scarlets).
Ireland U20 XV
15 Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), 14 Tommy O’Brien (UCD RFC/Leinster), 13 Jack Kelly (Dublin Uni/Leinster), 12 Ciaran Frawley (UCD RFC/Leinster), 11 Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster, captain), 10 Bill Johnston (Garryowen/Munster), 9 Jonny Stewart (Queen’s Uni/Ulster), 1 Joey Conway (UL Bohemians/Munster), 2 Tadgh McElroy (Lansdowne FC/Leinster), 3 Charlie Connolly (Dublin Uni/Leinster), 4 Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster), 5 Oisin Dowling (Lansdowne FC/Leinster), 6 Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster), 7 Paul Boyle (Lansdowne FC/Leinster), 8 Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster).
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher (UCD/Leinster), 17 Greg McGrath (Lansdowne/Leinster), 18 Matthew Burke (Corinthians/Connacht), 19 Jack Regan (UCD RFC/Leinster), 20 Marcus Rea (Queen’s University/Ulster), 21 Jack Stafford (Shannon/Munster), 22 Conor Fitzgerald (Shannon RFC/Munster), 23 Colm Hogan (Dublin Uni/Munster).