Wednesday 12th July, 4pm : New Era Stadium, Cabramatta, Sydney
England held a comfortable 18-6 lead at the break with two tries to Jason Bass in the final 10 minutes, but Scotland put in a valiant performance in the second half with five-eighth Matt Hogg leading the way with a perfect kicking record and a try of his own.
The early exchanges were brutally fought with both teams looking to dominate the opposition defensive line, but it was Scotland who got off to the perfect start with Jack Plumridge burrowing his way over from dummy-half for their maiden try of the afternoon. Matt Hogg converted from right in front to make it 6-0 after 10 minutes.
Despite a shaky start, England hit back with a try of their own after a quick raid down the left-hand touchline saw Elliot Hall cross in the left-hand corner, with Ben Stead nailing the sideline conversion to draw the game level at the quarter-hour mark.
Hogg was involving himself nicely with some classy touches and a perfectly placed grubber forcing a line drop-out, but it was his brilliant 40/20 kick that gave his side a wave of momentum, and when the side threatened with an attacking raid, winger Damien Gennochio thought he had given his team the lead as he pounced on a cross-field kick, only for the referee to declare that he had knocked it on in the process.
Scotland seemed to have the upper hand, dominating field position, but a classy backline movement off a scrum in the ensuing set saw England speedster, Jason Bass burst through a gaping hole to cross for England’s second try of the game, and Stead converted to take a 12-6 lead with just 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
Back-to-back penalties to England then saw an array of pressure mounting on Scotland with their gusty defence eventually breaking as Jason Bass crossed for his own second try to put England ahead 18 points to 6 at the break.
Hogg was proving to be the most influential figure in Scotland’s performance, with the dynamic stand-off darting through some charging defence after half-time before throwing a long-ball to his winger who was eventually brought down five metres out from the line.
Just moments later, however, England sent a lofty kick down-field into open space with a lucky bounce eventually finding Elliot Hall, with the winger crossing under the posts for his second try of the afternoon. And, brimming with confidence, Hall thought he had his third try just two minutes later, only for the referee to rule the final pass forward.
With 20 minutes remaining in the contest, Scotland looked to spark a potential comeback, with Liam Faughlin chasing down a crafty chip-kick from Hogg to score their second try of the game, but England were quick to reply with a match-sealing try and Stead continued his perfect kicking record, to send the score racing out to 30-12 and just 15 minutes left in the game.
Scotland were trying desperately to salvage some pride and put together some threatening, attacking raids, but when awarded a penalty they opted to take the two points, reducing the lead to 16. Faughlin then showed some brilliant speed just a few tackles later to dart through the England defence straight from the re-start, and his side took full advantage of the momentum swing with Hogg capping off his starring performance with a four-pointer.
Both teams continued to try their best to finish the game strongly, but Scotland’s efforts were to no further avail as England eventually ran away with a 30-20 victory.
Scotland Universities: Liam Faughlin, Damien Genocchio, Mike Dowding, Scott Plumridge, Fin Hutchinson, Matt Hogg, Callum Smithson, Gav Reed, Jack Plumridge, Mark Cordeaux, Ethan Flowers, Dan Turland, Luke Walters. Subs: Jack Elliott, Nial Hall, Jordan Duncan, George Geddes.
Tries: Jack Plumridge (1) Liam Faughlin (1), Matt Hogg (1). Goals: Matt Hogg 4/4
England Universities: Jacob Morgan, Dan Harrison, Jason Bass, Zack McComb, Elliot Hall, Kieran Smith, Ben Stead, Aaron Hall, Jake Reed, Josh Halstead, Dom Bryan, Marcus Stock, Kieran Sherratt. Subs: Harry Kidd, Josh Hamilton, Sam Druce, James Mason.
Tries: Elliot Hall (2), Jason Bass (2), Druce (1). Goals: Ben Stead 5/5