Arnott and Slade get buzz from victory
The match might not have been the most memorable, but Jack Arnott and Henry Slade will not forget last Friday's contest in a hurry.
They started for England against Scotland on the opening weekend of the RBS Under-20 Six Nations Championship at Brickfields in Plymouth, the place both call home for now – and they won.
England prevailed 15-6 to begin their defence of the Under-20 crown they have clinched in the last two campaigns. No one has ever made it three in a row.
They now prepare for Ireland and a trip to Dubarry Park, Athlone, this Friday in their second test in this season's championship.
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Neither England nor Scotland's performance on Friday was as consistent as the swirling wind, driving rain and heavy, sapping pitch at Brickfields, but no matter. That is not what Arnott and Slade, both 19 and dual-registered with Plymouth Albion and Exeter Chiefs, will remember in later years.
"To get my first cap in Plymouth is something special," said Arnott, who started on the wing in front of a healthy 4,719 fans at Brickfields. "I had family and friends down supporting me, and the crowd were phenomenal. There was an incredible buzz around the ground. On the pitch, that helped get us through."
Fly-half Slade, who kicked a penalty and conversion, said: "It was really nice to get out for England in front of a home crowd. I'll probably never get the chance to do it again so close to home. There was a great atmosphere. The crowd got into it. That helped us."
Scotland, with the wind at their backs, narrowly lost the first half 7-6 before England took control after the break.
Scotland led 3-0 through an early Tommy Allan penalty after England and Albion forward Luke Cowan-Dickie was penalised for collapsing a scrum. The turning point arrived late in the first half when Scotland, down to 14 men after flanker Ruaridh Leishman was sin-binned for killing the ball, conceded a penalty try underneath their own posts. Slade added the conversion.
Allan responded with a tough penalty from out on the right wing before half-time.
Slade added a penalty from the left wing early in the second half to make it 10-6.
Cowan-Dickie, who alongside Slade was England's stand-out player, carried the fight to Scotland fiercely and tirelessly up front after half-time. He broke down the left touchline, smashing through a disciplined Scotland defence. He was tackled and looked like he might fall short, but in a terrific second effort Cowan-Dickie reached forward and grounded the ball to make it 15-6.