With the World Cup proper starting next weekend this weekend has all been about warm up matches and a chance to gel as a team, particularly for a team like Scotland, where a number of the players only met each other on Wednesday. Thursday was a training session and Friday the Captain’s run and shirt presentation. A mention for that shirt presentation, alongside the draw Scotland achieved in the 4 Nations tournament in 2016 against the mighty Kiwis on a horrible night in Workington, the shirt presentation ranks amongst the best of my rugby experiences. Hearing each and every player talking about how honoured they were to receive their shirt and who they were representing in their family literally brought tears to my eyes. It was wonderful!

On to the match! This was the first opportunity for this Scotland squad to play as a team, they were up against a young and talented England team, coached by a great of the game, Paul Anderson he had another of the best players the game in England has seen, Paul Sculthorpe. Their team were playing to get noticed for a future in the England set up, and more than a few definitely made a name for themselves.

England opened the scoring with a try from Jack Broadbent, speed was clearly going to be a big part of this young teams’ game, he pounced on a ball kicked through, he just beat the Scotland defender to the ball to get the 4 points, the kick, right on the touchline was a hard one and missed.

Josh Thewlis was next on the score sheet, he threw a lovely dummy after receiving the ball from the play the ball to dive between the Scotland defenders. That took the score to Scotland 8 England Knights 0, would this be a rout? The England World Cup team had beaten Fiji 50 nil last night. There to support Scotland I hoped not!

Thewlis took a lovely long pass from Mikey Lewis out on the right wing to go over for his second and England’s third try, three good tries but not in good spots for the kicker. England however had a 12 nil lead at the break.

Josh Thewlis, who plays his club rugby for Warrington Wolves, was helped to his hat-trick by Mikey Lewis, who put a great kick into the in goal area, Deon Cross nearly stole his thunder but he went past the ball, leaving Thewlis to touch the ball down. Thewlis wasn’t finished with getting his name on the score sheet and scored his fourth, this time he took a great pass from Cross the ball was just behind him but he gathered the ball and ran in to score. He’d managed to head closer to the posts and this one saw a successful conversion and a lead of 22 for England Knights, with 52 minutes on the clock.

Scotland got on the scoreboard 6 minutes later when Bailey Haywood put a perfectly weighted kick into the in goal area, Kane Linnett was there to touch the ball down. Looking back at the video coverage, I’m not convinced the try would have been given with the benefit of a video ref. However a few things went ‘unseen’ during the match and that’s how things roll in such a high -paced game. It was good to see the joy from this Scotland team, they are definitely gelling.

England Knights had the last word through Jez Litten who backed himself to run in a good try, he ran through a few tired Scotland defenders who’d given their all throughout the game. The final score was Scotland 4 England Knights 28. A deserved win for this young England team and a positive run out for Scotland before they face Italy in Newcastle next Sunday.

Several players shone on both sides, with James Bell getting my Man of the Match for Scotland, I imagine the scorer of 4 tries, Josh Thewlis was the actual Man of the Match, but a player with a famous rugby name, Will Pryce also shone, his Dad Leon was proudly supporting at the match, he’s definitely a chip off the old block.

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