England U18s followed in the footsteps of their senior counterparts by beating Scotland in a highly physical encounter at Preston Grasshopper’s Lightfoot Green ground.
The victory means that England have won both of their warm-up games as their preparation for the U18 International Series continues.
A heavy rain downpour resulted in handling errors and penalties aplenty, and Scotland won four penalties in the first four minutes due to good work from Rory Darge and Connor Boyle at the breakdown.
But England opened the scoring after second-row Joe Tunney showed good pace to attack the ball on Scotland’s twenty-two and break the line for a well taken score, but Tom Harwick sent his conversion attempt wide.
Scotland replied 10 minutes later through their own lock, Harry Butler.
The boys in blue went through several pick and go phases before Butler barged his way over, and Ross Thompson converted to put the Scots 7-5 up.
England rallied and regained their lead before half-time.
Charlie Wright’s deft offloading set up another score, this time for his backrow partner Aaron Hinkley.
Hinkley steamed in from over 40 metres out for a sublime individual score after Scotland fluffed their line-out, a problem the Scots had all afternoon.
Hardwick made amends for his earlier conversion miss to send England into the break leading 12-7.
The intensity of the opening period continued into the second-half as three tries were scored in just five minutes.
First, Leicester Tigers fly-half Hardwick finished well from close range after the England pack created the opportunity through some strong rucking.
But Scotland responded when Hardwick had his attempted clearance kick charged down buy his opposite number, Ross Thompson, who picked up the ball to score and convert.
It took England only two minutes to extend their lead further through a former Scotland U16 international.
Inside-centre Cameron Redpath got on the end of his own grubber kick through to dot down just before the ball went dead for another excellent individual effort.
Hardwick added the extras to give the boys in white a 24-14 lead.
A Thompson penalty narrowed the lead to seven points, but England had the final say in this contest.
Replacement back Tom Seabrook came onto an inside ball from Hardwick with plenty of pace and crashed over from three yards.
Hardwick converted, and despite having Fraser Dingwell yellow carded with a few minutes remaining, England held their nerve for a hard fought win.
The Scots never gave up and played well throughout the 70 minutes, as both nations look ahead to the U18 International Series in April.
England U18 –
Tries: Tunney (5), Hinkley (31), Hardwick (43), Redpath (48), Seabrook (54
Conversions: Hardwick (32, 49, 55)
Scotland U18 –
Tries: Butler (15), Thompson (46)
Conversions: Thompson (16, 47)
Penalties: Thompson (50)
England U18 XV:
15 Iwan Hughes (Bristol, SGS Filton College); 14 Arron Reed (Sale Sharks, Kirkham GS), 13 Oli Morris (Saracens, New Hall), 12 Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks, Sedbergh), 11 Cadan Murley (Harlequins, Bishop Wordsworth’s); 10 Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers, Rugby), 9 Ollie Fox (Yorkshire, New College Pontefract); 1 George Head (Harlequins, Tonbridge), 2 Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks), 3 Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, Wyggeston & QEI College), 4 Joe Tunney (Wasps, Dr Challoners GS), 5 James Scott (Worcester Warriors, Malvern College), 6 Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester, St Peters), 7 Charlie Wright (Exeter Chiefs, Exeter College), 8 Josh Basham (London Irish, Wellington College).
Replacements: 16 Will Capon (Bristol, Bristol GS), 17 James Kenny (Exeter Chiefs, Exeter College), 18 Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, Sedbergh), 19 James Dun (Bristol, Millfield), 20 Andy Christie (Saracens, Harrow), 21 Cameron Kelemeti (Newcastle Falcons, Durham), 22 Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, Bedford), 23 Tom Seabrook (Gloucester, Dean Close).
Scotland U18 XV:
15 Jack Blain (Stewart’s Melville); 14 Josh Eagers (Merchiston Castle), 13 Andrew McLean (Stirling County RFC), 12 Rory McMichael (Wellington College), 11 Jacob Lineen (Stewart’s Melville); 10 Ross Thompson (Stewart’s Melville), 9 Gus Warr (Dollar Academy); 1 Andrew Nimmo (Biggar RFC), 2 Angus Fraser (Dundee HS), 3 Euan McLaren (Dollar Academy, captain), 4 Harry Butler (London Irish), 5 Callum Bell (The Glasgow Academy), 6 Rory Darge (North Berwick HS), 7 Connor Boyle (Stewart’s Melville), 8 Callum Cruikshank (Dollar Academy).
Replacements: 16 Finlay Scott (Jed Thistle RFC), 17 Murphy Walker (Strathallan), 18 Daniel York (St Aloysius’ College), 19 Cameron Henderson (Strathallan), 20 Jack Hutchison (Sedbergh), 21 Roan Frostwick (North Berwick HS), 22 Matthew Davidson (Merchiston Castle), 23 Grant Hughes (Dollar Academy).