- Wells try not enough to upset Scotland U17s
- England U16 A miss out in hard-fought Festival opener
England U16 A 5-7 Scotland U17
An eighth minute try from Scotland lock Callum Templeton proved decisive in a nip-and-tuck opening day Wellington Festival match between England and Scotland at the Crowthorne, Berkshire, on Sunday afternoon (April 4).
England had cut the deficit to just two points by half-time but, although they dominated much of the second half and even had a penalty kick bounce off an upright, they could never find a way through the tight Scottish defence for a match-winning touchdown.
But, despite the disappointment, England captain and tight-head prop Alex Gale was full of praise for his side afterwards saying: "The lads just put effort on effort, worked their guts out and it would have been nice if that kick from Andy Hodgson on the halfway line hadn’t hit the upright. I mean two inches to the right it and it could have been a different story.
"But you can’t fault the guys for effort, Scotland are a year older, that’s their first team and we’re a year younger and we’re, apparently, the England second team and it was a performance to be proud of."
The early exchanges went Scotland’s way but after England’s initial foray into the Scots 22 they were again forced back into their own half and from a high kick full back Hodgson couldn’t get to the ball in time.
It took an enormous bounce backwards straight into the hands of Scotland hooker Callum Black and he, in turn, found the rampaging Templeton on his outside who just had enough room to drive over.
While fly half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne added the conversion he was presented with a second points scoring opportunity ten minutes later only to put his penalty kick, from almost straight in front of the posts, wide to let England off the hook.
And, they took full advantage to take the initial steam out of the Scots and to force their way back into their oppositions 22 and win a line-out.
It was well tapped down by lock Harry Wells to flanker Rory Anderson and, helped out by hooker Harry Thacker, Wells suddenly peeled off the moving maul and charged up the five-metre channel to smash his way over.
Unfortunately Hodgson’s difficult conversion was wide of the mark but at 7-5 behind at half time and with the Scots tight-head prop Ryan Barr in the sin-bin England could start the second-half confidently.
They even survived another Scots penalty attempt from Hidalgo-Clyne that drifted wide just two minutes after the restart but although they had the lions share of possession playing down the slope they could never string enough passes together or possess the telling break in midfield to seriously trouble the Scots defence.
Centre Alex Smith certainly tried his best to penetrate the Scots defences without success and, up front, Thacker and Wells were the stand-out forwards.
Coach Steve Shortland said: "There were a couple of schoolboy errors in the first half but, I think, we probably felt confident turning around at half-time and playing down the slight slope.
"Unfortunately, we failed to do the simple things well and therefore we couldn’t build platforms and we couldn’t build pressure and in that respect it was a stalemate game with neither side looking like scoring. We will build on the positive bits of play we were able to produce and prepare for the next game."
England U16 A
Andrew Hodgson; Ralph Dowds, Niall Crosley, Alex Smith, Saeed Agboke; Oliver Claxton, Seb Tullie; Matt Beaumont, Harry Thacker, Alex Gale (c); Daniel Grange, Harry Wells; Rory Anderson, Gus Jones, James Bloxham.
Replacements: Thomas Rhodes, Luke Cole, Keiran Davis, Thomas Hilton-Stevens, Harry Nuttall, Steve Uren, Simon Sexton, Jonathan Taylor, Nick Carpenter, Alex Wootton, Lee Melotti.
Wellington International Festival 2010, fixtures/results
Sunday April 4:
France A 32-5 Italy A
Canada 22-5 Portugal
England A 5-7 Scotland U17
Belgium 0 English Divisions (North & Midlands) 54
Tuesday April 6:
England A v Belgium (10am)
Scotland v France A (12pm)
Italy A v Canada (2pm)
Portugal v English Divisions (London & SE) (4pm)
Friday April 9:
Italy A v English Divisions (South West) (10am)
Scotland v Canada (11am)
Portugal v Belgium (12pm)
England A v France A (1pm).