ENGLAND U20 secured another superb victory in this season’s 6 Nations campaign, running in eight tries in a 56-8 win against a spirited Scotland side, who themselves touched down once. Rob Hunter’s men now head into next Friday’s match against Ireland in Athlone with a win securing them a clean sweep for the first time since 2008.
London Wasps centre Elliot Daly helped himself to a hat-trick while captain and Newcastle Falcons No. 8 Alex Gray scored twice. Wasps wing Christian Wade, Harlequins hooker Rob Buchanan and Bristol Rugby prop Mako Vunipola all touched down once. Leicester Tiger fly half George Ford converted all eight tries, ending the match with 16-points to his name.
Early pressure from England put Scotland on the back foot and with three minutes gone an expertly executed cross field kick from Ford was caught by Daly as he dived over the try line.
Minutes later though and Scotland got on the scoreboard themselves; scoring a long distance penalty. The three-points galvanised the Scots but they failed to convert their possession into points and were punished by England. Worcester Warrior wing Andy Short broke free from midfield and floated a lovely ball over to Wade who turned on the gas and touched down.
England extended their lead shortly after when Ford and Daly once again combined to devastating effect. A chip through from Ford was touched down by the Wasps man, his sixth try in three Six Nations games.
England’s scrum looked strong throughout, and soon after the third match official had deemed Rob Buchanan to have been held up over the try line, the pack pushed Scotland back and Gray picked up and touched down.
At 28-3 down Scotland began to fight back, heading over the whitewash for themselves soon after Gray’s try. Prop Robin Hislop barged his way through to touch down, the conversion was missed to keep the score 28-8 with 25 on the clock.
Buchanan then made up for his disallowed score by going over just before the break, showing great strength to push over the line and make the score 35-3 at half time.
There was an unfortunate stoppage five minutes into the half when England flanker Kieran Low went down with an ankle injury, he was replaced by London Wasps’ Sam Jones, making his first appearance of the campaign. Thankfully Low’s injury was not a broken ankle as first thought.
England were reduced to 14 with 53 on the clock when Matt Kvesic was penalised for not releasing, but Scotland were unable to capitalise as England kept possession and turned the pressure into points when prop Mako Vunipola went over for his first try of this season’s 6 Nations.
England’s scrum again asserted its authority with ten minutes left, a strong push towards the Scottish try line opened things up for Gray to touch down for his second try of the game and his fourth of the tournament.
With five minutes left to play, Daly completed his hat-trick. Harlequins lock Charlie Matthews stormed forward, before offloading to Saracens’ centre Owen Farrell who passed the ball along the line before Daly went over in the corner to round off the scoring.
Coach Rob Hunter said: “We’re very happy with the performance, to be four from four is exactly what we wanted. We lost our rhythm at times, but it can be hard for these young lads to keep such a high pressure and intensity up for 80 minutes. Scotland were well organised, as you would expect – their line-out was good, and they deserve credit. We’ll enjoy the win for a short while and then focus solely on next week.”
“It’s great to have such a depth of talent to choose from. Owen [Farrell] has come in and he’s done very well, as a coach it’s important to have a good level of competition for places. Selection is getting very interesting at the moment, but that’s the way it should be. We’ll prepare for the Ireland game next week in the same way we do for all of our games – the ‘G’ word is still banned!”
Owen Farrell added: “I’m really pleased to get my first appearance under my belt at U20 level – I’ve been dying to get out there playing and to do it against Scotland and to get the win just makes it all the more special. It doesn’t matter to me what position I’m playing, it just means so much to wear the shirt and to do as well as I can for my country and for the lads.”
“It’s great to be playing with such talented young players. To have Fordy [George Ford] at No. 10 is great – he’s always talking and letting you know what’s what and that’s great. He’s a real thinker and is always one step ahead of everyone else, and then you’ve got Elliot Daly on the other side who can beat players at will, it’s a great combination. I’m available to play against Ireland next week so hopefully I’ve done enough to stay involved in some capacity – but I’ll have to wait and see.”
Elliot Daly said: “I’ve been getting on the end of a few tries recently [seven in three 6 Nations games] but it really is all down to my teammates. I think I only ran the minimum amount of yardage for my three against Scotland, and that’s all down to the hard work of the players around me. Scotland caused us a few problems, they held possession for long periods, but we held our shape and kept them at bay.”
“We’ll be looking at Ireland in the same way as any other, we know what we can achieve but you put that to the back of your mind and concentrate on the task in hand. It’s just another game and if we win that then the rewards will come afterwards. I’ve not played over in Athlone before so I’m just really looking forward to the whole thing.”
England U20 team v Scotland:
15 Ben Ransom (Saracens)
14 Andy Short (Worcester Warriors)
13 Elliot Daly (London Wasps)
12 Owen Farrell (Saracens)
11 Christian Wade (London Wasps)
10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
9 Dan Robson (Gloucester Rugby)
1 Mako Vunipola (Bristol Rugby)
2 Rob Buchanan (Harlequins)
3 Will Collier (Harlequins)
4 Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
5 Charlie Matthews (Harlequins)
6 Kieran Low (Harlequins)
7 Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors)
8 Alex Gray (C) (Newcastle Falcons)
16 Koree Britton (Gloucester Rugby) on for Rob Buchanan 55 mins
17 Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks) on for Will Collier 50 mins
18 Sam Jones (London Wasps) on for Keiran Low 48 mins
19 Matt Everard (Leicester Tigers) on for Matt Kvesic 74 mins
20 Chris Cook (Bath Rugby) on for Dan Robson 60 mins
21 Jamie Elliott (Northampton Saints) on for Ben Ransom 70 mins
22 Jonathan Joseph (London Irish) on for Andy Short 50 mins