England: (12) 12
Tries: Kellet, Milne Goals: Heaton (2)
Scotland: (0) 12
Tries: Caldwell, Taylor Goals: Anderson-Moore (2)
A last minute try from England’s Josh Milne denied Scotland a memorable victory in the Under-19 international at Leigh.
After being 6-0 down at half time, the Scots took control after the break with tries from Euan Caldwell and Sean Taylor, and a conversion and a penalty from Max Anderson-Moore, building a 12-6 lead.
But just when it looked like a fine performance from the Scots would be rewarded with a win, Josh Milne powered over from close range for a try that was converted to salvage a draw for the home side.
It was, nonetheless, a performance full of positives for Mark Brennan’s side, who showed tremendous energy and battling qualities throughout.
The Scots enjoyed a spell of early pressure, with Charlie Emslie held up on the line in their first attack, but it was England who got the first points on the board in the 13th minute, when Jack Kellet darted through a gap in the Scottish defence to touch down next to the post, leaving Charlie Heaton with an easy conversion.
Luke Punton was always prominent in the Scottish attacks in the opening stages, and he came close to delivering an immediate response when he chased his own kick towards the line, but just failed to gather cleanly a yard out.
As the half wore on, the game was played predominantly in the Scottish half, but dogged defending kept the English forwards at bay, and on the occasions when they broke forward the Scots always posed a threat.
Fergus Simpson was unlucky to lose his footing at a vital moment after a great break took him past two defenders, and the Scots ended the half on the front foot, as they completed a set with a move involving Luke Punton and Charlie Emslie that saw Matty Ferguson being tackled a yard short of the line.
The Scots momentum continued after the break, and four minutes in Lyle Wilson intercepted a pass on halfway and raced into space only to be stopped by a fine saving tackle just inches short of the line.
Luke Punton was next to exert pressure, when he was unlucky not to touch down from his own grubber kick, but the Scots domination was finally rewarded with a try in the 52nd minute.
Lyle Wilson did the early spade work when he reacted quickly to pick up a loose pass and after he was tackled on the 10 metre line, the ball was fed out to Euan Caldwell who touched down in the right hand corner, and Max Anderson-Moore did a great job with a difficult conversion from the touchline.
The Scots continued to frustrate the hosts, with England giving a series of penalties away when put under pressure, and one of those gave Scotland the chance to take the lead at the midway point of the half, when Anderson-Moore drilled one between the sticks to put Scotland 8-6 ahead.
It was all Scotland at this stage, with England struggling to get out of their own half, and with 11 minutes remaining, the visitors scored their second try, with a move involving Simpson, Anderson-Moore and Wilson setting up debutant Sean Taylor to score in the corner.
A missed conversion left the score at 12-6 in favour of the Scots, and as the clock ticked down, England staged a last desperate attempt to salvage something from the game.
With four minutes remaining, it appeared they had spurned a great chance when a long clearance found Brandon Tickle in space down the right. With options to either go for the line or pass inside, Tickle went for the pass but overthrew and the Scots regained possession.
But as the game moved into the final minute, the Scots defence was finally breached and it was the strength of Josh Milne that proved to be decisive, when he powered through and appeared initially to be held up just short, but he had enough momentum to edge forward and get the ball down just inches over the line.
Charlie Heaton made no mistake with the conversion to level the scores at 12-12, and moments later the referee signalled the end of a thoroughly entertaining game.
Afterwards Scotland Under 19 head coach Mark Brennan gave his thoughts on the game.
We are really happy to take England so close, and with the talent and the playing pool they have got it’s an outstanding effort
Elliot Stockdale, Adam Livsey, Evan Jones, Kieron Lawton, Ryan Hilton, James Ennis, Charlie Heaton, Harry Darby, Jack Kellet, Connor Grainey, Jack Stephenson, Sam Eryes, Josh Milne
Interchange: Matty Ellis, Brandon Tickle, Tom O’Loughlin, Oliver Lewis, Tyler Hart, George Hirst, Astin Mossop
Max Anderson-Moore, Ryan Brown, Lyle Wilson, Jack McMillan, Euan Caldwell, Fraser Gilvray, Warren Paladine, Connor Terrill, Dan May, Kyle McCulloch, Lewis Laing, Charlie Emslie, Luke Punton
Interchange: Rowan Armatage, Andrew McKie, Elliot Campbell, Fergus Simpson, Matthew Ferguson, Sean Taylor
England player of the match: Jack Kellet
Scotland player of the match: Luke Punton