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Scotland A, Saxons battle to draw

31st January 2014 21:09

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Scrum power: Elliot Stooke

A territorial slugfest between Scotland A and England Saxons ended in a 16-16 draw on Friday at Scotstoun in Glasgow.

Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns kicked four penalties on top of a penalty try following successive indiscrepancies at the scrum from Scotland, who scored a try of their own through Glasgow's Bryon McGuigan.

Tom Heathcote's 78th-minute penalty proved the decisive strike, levelling the scoreline with time running out to split the honours.

Burns opened the scoring with a penalty after a late tackle from Scotland A captain Jonny Gray, with Henry Prygos responding thanks to an audacious drop goal.

The pre-game downpour meant this one was always going to hinge on the effectiveness of each pack, with Scotland's maul impressing early on.

Burns missed his second penalty attempt before England dropped to 14 men when Gloucester scrum-half Dan Robson was sent to the bin.

Scotland only managed a penalty in Robson's absence to put them ahead 6-3.

Elliot Daly's dangerous chip forced a Scottish knock-on five metres from the try line and it ended in a series of destructive scrums, that left referee Laurent Cardona with no choice but to award a penalty try. It handed the England Saxons a 10-6 lead at the break.

England's scrum maintained its dominance at the start of the second half as Burns landed his second penalty.

It nearly got worse for Scotland when McGuigan was caught in two minds, opting to kick late on his own five-metre line with England pouncing to knock on and force a scrum. Despite England's promising drive, the put-in was reversed Scotland's way.

Bar that blip England's scrum provided an ideal platform for Robson and Burns to pull the strings and they nearly capitalised, Kyle Eastmond's try-scoring pass to Adam Thompstone just knocked on by the Leicester wing.

England's momentum though was stemmed by the departure to the bin of Henry Slade, with Scotland punching back thanks to a try from McGuigan - sucking the defence to the near side before releasing the Glasgow Warrior down the left touchline, Heathcote levelling the scores with the conversion.

An illegal turnover from Scotland at the breakdown handed Burns a chip shot to restore England's lead at 16-13, the Saxons edging the battle at the breakdown as Scotland's ill-discipline hurt their best efforts.

Jack Cuthbert survived a second Scottish kicking scare deep in his 22 as the hosts' number of mistakes crept up, with neither side throwing too much caution to the wind with the scoreline only separating them by three points.

Heathcote had the chance to level the scores with a penalty out on the right, but the Bath number ten shanked his kick well wide to deny Scotland the chance to go level.

He was handed an immediate reprieve, Luke Wallace taking out a Scottish runner chasing a high kick to give Heathcote a much more central attempt with two minutes to play. He made no mistake, tying things up at 16-16.

The scorers:

For Scotland A:
Try: McGuigan
Con: Heathcote
Pens: Prygos, Heathcote
Drop Goal: Prygos

For Saxons:
Try: Penalty
Con: Burns
Pens: Burns 3
Yellow Cards: Robson, Slade

Scotland A: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Grove, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray (c), 4 Kieran Low, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Kevin Bryce, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Ed Kalman, 19 Olly Atkins, 20 Tyrone Holmes, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Richie Vernon.

England Saxons: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Calum Clark (c), 5 George Kruis, 4 Elliot Stooke, 3 Scott Wilson, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Charlie Sharples

Referee: Laurent Cardona (France)
Assistant Referees: Arnaud Blondel (France), Mourad Zitouni (France)

by Ben Coles
@bencoles_

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