- England sign off with heroic 26-25 victory at Stadio Flaminio
- Last minute Hooley conversion helps overturn 18-0 half-time deficit
Italy Under 17 25-26 England Under 16
Photo: RFU Archive
England Under 16s produced a heroic fightback in Rome’s Stadio Flaminio this afternoon to snatch their first win in this season’s Four Nations Tournament with a converted try in the last minute of the game.
The referee’s whistle for time greeted the crucial conversion from replacement fly-half Will Hooley after a kick out of defence had fallen favourably for right wing Jack Arnott, who raced from his own half for the crucial score.
The score completed a terrific fightback by the England team, who looked a though they might be heading for a third successive defeat in the tournament when they trailed 18-0 at half-time to three tries and a penalty by the home side.
A try by flanker Gabriel Carroll from a back row move and a break by centre Jordan Husband launched the England rally soon after the restart and seven minutes later a counter attack by England ended in replacement fly-half Will Hooley converting a fine try by wing Jordan Burns.
England’s determination to play enterprising rugby then let them down when another counter-attack broke down and Italy took advantage to move into a 25-12 lead with a converted try, but undeterred by the setback, England stuck to their bold approach and were rewarded five minutes from time.
A fluent handling movement involving several players created the opportunity for replacement flanker Jack Allcock to score, Hooley again supplying the goal that set up the final riposte in last minute by Arnott and Hooley’s excellent conversion.
"The competition in this tournament is getting stronger each year as the development work among our opponents continues to move them forward," said Head Coach Phil Stanlake.
"With this being the last game of the tournament against Italy in the Stadio Flaminio, there were always going to be real pressures, especially with the way they had prepared themselves for the game and the way they controlled the first half.
"But we managed to wear them down and eventually create chances which we took. The lads deserved the win for their work rate and their effort. They fought from the first second to the last and you can’t ask for any more than that. They’ve been absolutely fabulous."
England Under 16
(school, schools CB, club, academy/elite player development group where applicable)
Anthony Watson (St George's College, Surrey, London Irish); Jack Arnott (St Boniface College, Devon, Devonport Services, Exeter Chiefs), Tom Wallace (RGS High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, London Wasps), Jordan Husband (Northampton School for Boys, East Midlands, Old Northamptonians, Northampton Saints), Jordan Burns (Epsom College, Surrey, Cobham, Harlequins); Jonathan Burn (The Duchess's Community High School, Northumberland, Alnwick, Newcastle Falcons), Samuel Pointon (Rugby School, East Midlands); Damon Poole (Bromsgrove School, North Midlands, Worcester, Worcester Warriors), Jamie Charlton-Little (Perins School, Hampshire, Winchester, London Irish), James Thraves (Highfields School Derbyshire, Notts Lincs & Derbyshire, Derby, Leicester Tigers), Matt Thomas (Shiplake College, Oxfordshire, London Wasps), Jake Oldaker (King Edward's School Bath, Dorset & Wilts, Corsham, Bath Rugby), Hugo Peterson (Sedbergh School, Cumbria, Otley Zebras, Newcastle Falcons), Gabriel Carroll (St Joseph's College, Eastern Counties, Sudbury, Northampton Saints), Harry Ledger (Whitgift School, Surrey, Sutton & Epsom, Harlequins) (C)
Will Hooley (The Leys School, Eastern Counties, Cambridge, Northampton Saints), Max Crumpton (The King John School, Essex, Westcliff, Saracens), Scott Wilson (Eyemouth High School, Northumberland, Berwick, Newcastle Falcons), Jack Allcock (Sedbergh School, Cumbria), Alex Bradley (Bishop Wordsworth School, Hampshire, Andover, London Irish).