By England U20s
March 12 2017
England Under 20s have won the 2017 Six Nations title after a 33-5 win over Scotland at Franklin's Garden
The hosts were kept at bay in the opening stages of the match by a well-organised Scotland side but broke the deadlock through a try from second row Jack Nay after 20 minutes. Captain Zach Mercer then showed a moment of brilliance to set up scrum-half Harry Randall just before half-time.
England had all the momentum in the second half with winger Dominic Morris capitalising on their dominance to sprint over in the corner. Scotland responded straight away with a try of their own through Darcy Graham before Mercer scored after an error from Scotland's fly-half Josh Henderson, giving England the bonus point.
Theo Brophy Clews made sure England finished the match in style when he stayed on the shoulder of Joe Cokanasiga, taking the offload to sprint over in the corner. England had to wait until the result of Wales U20s match against Ireland to find out if they had won the championship, with Wales's 41-27 win confirming England as the competition's winners.
The visitors had most of the ball in the opening quarter with England struggling at the set piece, losing three of their own lineouts in the opening 10 minutes.
The hosts gradually began to take control of the game in the first half and almost broke the deadlock several times. Morris, Randall and Mercer all came close to scoring but were kept out by a resolute Scottish defence. Second row Nay finally made the difference, picking the ball from a ruck and crashing over in the corner in the 21st minute. Malins slotted the conversion to make it 7-0.
Max Mallins - PA/Images
England continued to dominate possession after the try with Scotland’s front row George Thornton giving his side their best attacking chance in the half with some sublime footwork before the ball was knocked on. With half-time approaching, Mercer showed a moment of magic to set up England’s second try. The number eight beat two players before a superb offload fell into the hands of Randall who scored in the corner.
Malins was once again on target with the boot, giving his side a 14-0 lead at the break.
England started the second half just as they had finished the first, with Malins once again finding space to bring his side metres from Scotland’s line but Scotland held firm. Minutes later, centre Will Butler showed his strength to shrug off his opposite man to once again bring England close. The hosts showed composure to go through the phases, stretching Scotland defence to allow Morris to finish in the corner after 49 minutes.
Malins was unable to convert and Scotland immediately responded with a try of their own after England failed to gather the restart. Winger Darcy Graham stretched over to score his side’s first try, with the missed conversion making it 19-5. The sides remained well matched for the remainder of the second half until an error from Henderson allowed Mercer to touch down with eight minutes remaining to secure the bonus point.
The conversion put England 26-5 ahead but they had time to add one more when the ever-threatening Cokanasiga fed replacement Brophy Clews. Malins once again converted to make it 33-5 at the final whistle.
England U20 coach Tom Williams urged his side to go on now and seal the Grand Slam. “I was excited when we were preparing for this game as I knew it would be a challenge," said Williams. "Scotland didn’t provide us with too many problems defensively, however they were very effective with their game plan and we found ourselves frustrated at times.
“We have sown up the Six Nations title this evening but we all want the Grand Slam – that is what we set out to achieve at the start of the competition. Ireland are going to be a real handful next week and it will be a massive game playing for the Grand Slam on St Patrick’s Day.” "Ireland will be passionate and physical and we'll have to be well prepared."
And man of the match Ben Curry said the side were well prepared for a physical Ireland side on Friday. "The lads put in a great shift, we knew Scotland were going to hit us hard in that opening 20 minutes and I thought we weathered that storm very well which shows the character of this team.
"Scotland are a passionate team so it was all about fronting up mentally and physically which we did really well. They tested us at the breakdown and the lineout and took us a while to adapt which we eventully did. "I'm really happy to get man of the match but it's all about the team performance and we're looking forward to a big game against Ireland next week. "Ireland will be passionate and physical and we'll have to be well prepared for that challenge on Friday."
England U20 team to face Scotland U20:
15. Tom Parton (London Irish), 14. Joe Cokanasiga (London Irish), 13. Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie), 12. Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), 11. Dominic Morris (Saracens), 10. Max Malins (Saracens), 9. Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby), 1. Ollie Dawe (Bristol Rugby), 2. Curtis Langdon (Sale Sharks), 3. Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby), 4. Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs), 5. Max Davies (Newcastle Falcons), 6. Jack Nay (Saracens), 7. Ben Curry (Sale Sharks), 8. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby) captain.
16. Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons), 17. Ralph Adams-Hale (Saracens), 18. Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs), 19. Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), 20. Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby), 21. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints), 22. Theo Brophy Clews (London Irish), 23. Jacob Umaga (Wasps).