Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Honours even at Scotstoun Stadium

England Saxons' Henry Slade was sin-binned in the 16-16 draw with Scotland A.
England Saxons' Henry Slade was sin-binned in the 16-16 draw with Scotland A.

A 16-16 draw was just about the correct result as the back-up sides of the Auld Enemies battled it out in a dour encounter at Scotstoun Stadium.

England, through their domination of territory, looked to have achieved a logical victory until late on, despite having two men sin-binned - Dan Robson in the first half and Henry Slade after the turnaround.

In dry overhead conditions but on a very wet pitch that produced a slippery ball the early stages were marked by errors by both sides.

A silly late tackle gave England stand-off Freddie Burns the chance to put his side 3-0 ahead in just three minutes.

Two minutes later a well-driven Scottish line-out brought the chance for scrum-half Henry Pyrgos to drop a nice goal.

There were few moments of excitement for the reasonably sized crowd in a first half of errors, the chief one coming from England scrum-half Robson - who got himself sin-binned in the 18th minute by referee Laurent Cardonna for stamping as he followed up a half break from centre Elliot Daly that took him into the home 22.

Scotland then produced some pressure in the England half with their most coherent piece of play of the period bringing a straightforward penalty that Pyrgos struck home.

However by the pause England were 10-6 ahead - and again an error opened the door.

Scotland full-back Jack Cuthbert, who had been a rock under England kicks allowed one to squirm from his grasp. The scrum brought an England penalty which was taken as another scrum to finally produce a penalty try, converted by Burns.

The second half saw England continue to monopolise territory through the slick kicking of Burns, who edged his side further ahead with a long straight penalty in the 46th minute.

Burns however had to hobble off four minutes later, replaced by Slade - and almost immediately he was sin-binned when caught offside.

The resultant penalty allowed Scotland to establish themselves in the England 22 from where the ball was spun to the left for winger Byron McGuigan to score in the corner. Replacement stand-off Tom Heathcote converted to tie the scores.

Daly put England ahead with a penalty in the 63rd minute and that seemed to be enough to see his side home - until two minutes from time when a second penalty from Heathcote again brought equality.

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