Scotland A kicked off the opening weekend of the Six Nations with a draw over Auld Enemy rivals England Saxons.
In a closely fought match in Glasgow both teams looked dangerous throughout, creating good chances, but the bulk of the scores came from the boots of Freddie Burns, Henry Pyrgos, Elliot Daly and Tom Heathcote.
The first points of the night went to England Saxons with an early Freddie Burns penalty as the teams sized each other up and settled into the match. However the lead was short lived as only moments later scrum half Henry Pyrgos stunned the crowd with his kicking ability, booting an impressive long range drop goal through the uprights, much to the delight of the Scotstoun support.
The Saxons looked to settle into the game a bit more as the first ten minutes passed, piling pressure on Scotland A. The home side held firm though, not letting England penetrate deeper than the 22. The visitors had to be content with an attempt at the posts to come away with 3 points instead of the coveted 5, but luck was not with them as fly half Burns pushed his shot wide.
With the first quarter closing out the Saxons scrum half Dan Robson saw a yellow card for stamping on his opponent, Scotland A used the extra man advantage, forcing themselves deep into the England half. However despite the extra man, they were unable to break through the hugely physical wall that was the English defence.
Scotland A’s first real chance of the night came as fly half Greig Tonks delivered a high kick forward for his teammates to chase. With Alex Grove competing against the bulk of the Saxon forwards, Scotland gained some ground, edging closer to the line, but they sustained a few knocks in the process, and the play came to a halt.
Henry Pyrgos once again demonstrated his kicking ability as the half hour mark approached, easily slotting over a much closer range penalty to give the home side a three-point lead.
Moments later, with England Saxons back up to full strength they began to build the pressure on the Scots, this time their attack was rewarded with a penalty try after a succession of scrums that French referee Laurent Cardona was not happy with. Burns added the extras with five minutes remaining of the first half.
The visitors wasted little time getting points on the board in the second half, with fly half Burns slotting over a penalty five minutes into the half, taking the Saxons to a seven point lead.
The sides traded off with each other for the next fifteen minutes, exchanging kicks and possession frequently as England tried to maintain their lead, and Scotland determined to close that gap.
As the hour mark approached Warrior Byron McGuigan scrambled over the line putting the perfect finish on a dogged phase of play from the Scots, with several of the bench making an instant impact at the breakdown. Replacement fly half Tom Heathcote added the extras, levelling the scores once again.
England had the opportunity to pull ahead minutes later as Scotland were penalised in front of the posts. Elliot Daly stepped up to take the kick and it sailed between the uprights, giving the visitors a three-point cushion over the boys in blue.
As England looked to attack again, a forward pass halted their momentum and gave Scotland possession, which they instantly used to encroach on Saxons territory. Those familiar with Glasgow Warriors games will not be surprised to see substitute flanker Tyrone Holmes aggressively hounding his opponents.
Another England penalty attempt from long range fell short and into the arms of Olly Atkins, who attempted to clear it away, but found himself being charged down by several of the Saxons. Some quick and scrappy defending on the line from Heathcote prevented an England Saxons try.
With ten minutes remaining and a complete change of front row for Scotland A, the game became more of a stalemate affair. The visitors were looking to push deep into the Scottish half, only to find their attempts repelled easily by the Scottish defence and their own ill discipline. As the Scots were awarded a penalty they were able to clear their lines and put a whole heap of pressure on the English. Tom Heathcote had the opportunity to level the scores with five minutes to go, but the kick went wide of the far post.
England looked to build from the restart, but found themselves pushed back and penalised again for pushing. This time Heathcote did not miss, and with two minutes remaining the scores were level once again.
England Saxons had possession as the clock went red; Olly Atkins was lucky not to be pinged for two late charges on Joe Simpson and Henry Slade. But play continued and Scotland A successfully turned the ball over. As Scotland edged into the English half, referee Cardona judged that a forward pass was thrown just as the Scots were seeing if they could pinch a win and the match ended all square.
Full time: Scotland A 16-16 England Saxons
MOTM: Ally Hogg.