Scotland A 35
England Saxons 0
STUART CAMERON reports from Netherdale
WELL we really didn’t expect a result like that!
The 4,127 people who supported Scotland’s second string at Netherdale on Friday night will remember this game for the rest of their lives because victories at any level against the English are rare.
But to beat their A team, the Saxons, by 35 points – and leave with a clean sheet as well – is simply fantastic. Full credit to the entire squad for making this one of the great nights in Scottish rugby history.
The squad had only been together for a few days prior to this match and England Saxons were coming off the back of an impressive win against Ireland’s Wolfhounds team the week before.
In that game they had dominated the scrum and they were expected to do the same on Friday night.
They had also lost just two of their last 20 matches, so the smart money would have been on them, despite Scotland A being unbeaten at Netherdale on all four previous occasions.
The temperature was showing minus three degrees as the teams kicked off – and from the start it was clear the Scots were up for this one, getting in the faces of the English and refusing to be bullied.
Within two minutes they were three points to the good with a Duncan Weir penalty, but after 17 minutes, local hero Stuart Hogg set the place alight with a blistering run up the left flank, weaving his way through white shirts to score one of the great tries at this venue.
The 19-year-old, tipped for a full cap this weekend following a fine display here, was playing for Hawick YM only a few months ago, and his rise through the ranks to a contract at Glasgow Warriors, shows just how good the lad is. Weir converted and then kicked a penalty to give Scotland A a 13-point lead at the turnaround.
England Saxons, under Jon Callard, offered very little and didn’t look up for this game at all. In contrast, to a man, the Scots were hungry for ball, tackling effectively, and the backs were making good use of the possession obtained for them by the pack with the front five all coming from Glasgow Warriors.
Things got better after the break. Duncan Weir scythed a path through the English defence and went in under the posts.
He kicked the extras and then banged over a fine penalty from wide out before Rory Lawson got his name on the scoresheet following a five-metre scrum. Richie Vernon picked up at the base, flicked inside to Rob Harley and Lawson was there to drive over.
England were never a threat as confidence grew in the Scotland camp. A wonderful little tap-on to Matt Scott saw the Currie centre in space and he wasn’t going to be stopped from adding his name to the list.
Weir converted and the fans went home more happy, hardly believing the image in their minds of the scoreboard saying 35-0 as they went back to the car parks to scrape the ice of their vehicles and reflect on a thrilling result.
Hogg told TheSouthern: “What a night that was! I was a happy man after that try, but to nil England and score four tries was fantastic. The defence was solid all night. They had nowhere to go and that forced them to kick, which is what we wanted them to do.
“Things are going well for me right now, so I’ll keep working hard and keep my fingers crossed for a call-up to the national team.”
You can see exclusive match highlights from this match on Borders Rugby TV at www.BordersRugby.net
Scotland A: S. Hogg; T. Brown, A. Grove, M. Scott, S. Danielli; D. Weir, R. Lawson; J. Welsh, D. Hall, E. Kalmen, R. Harley, T. Ryder, S. McInally, C. Fusaro, R. Vernon. Subs: P. MacArthur, Ryan Grant, R. Wilson, Roddy Grant, H. Pyrgos, P. Godman, P. Murchie.