- England Counties complete clean sweep on Canada tour
- Team sign-off with seven tries against BC Bears
British Columbia Bears 7 England Counties 46
England Counties Manager Danny Hodgson said that he was the happiest man in Canada after his team completed a hat trick of tour wins by beating BC Bears with a rousing performance at Klahanie Park in Vancouver.
The game was an especially emotional experience for the Northumberland farmer, who stands down from the Counties management team after this game having been involved as Assistant Manager and Manager since the side was put together in 2002.
And how well his latest group of players – average age 22 – responded to the challenge of providing the hugely popular Hodgson with a perfect send-off. They scored seven tries in all, with fly half Paul Humphries converting two and his replacement Ross Winney adding two conversions and a penalty.
The visitors were expecting their toughest test of the three game series, but they got away to a brisk start when centre Henry Staff, the youngest player in the team, powered through to score, and soon afterwards crisp hands from No.8 Mark Evans gave wing James Tincknell all the space he needed to gallop home.
Good running by the impressive Gareth Collins at full back helped set up the position for wing Tom Jarvis to claim the third before lock Louis McGowan was driven over for a try that effectively sealed the game for the Counties at 24-0.
Complete performance from Counties
As they have discovered throughout their trip, however, Canadians do not buckle readily and the Bears cut the deficit with a try by flanker Seamus Guy, who took a quick free-kick and bundled over, full back Mike Hall adding the conversion.
The Bears continued to deny the tourists with some sturdy defending after the break and it was perhaps a tribute to their tenacity that the next Counties score was a Winney penalty to take the score at 27-7.
The closing stages then belonged entirely to the tourists as the home side weakened slightly, tries by Staff, Tincknell and replacement Phil Eggleshaw sealing a top-class display.
"At the start of this trip, I was quoted as being the happiest man in Twickenham when our players came through the County Championship final OK," said a tearful Hodgson.
"Now I'm the happiest man in Canada. The lads were magnificent and I'm over the moon. To see all the team getting round the field working and grafting like they did was tremendous. There was also skill that was absolutely breath-taking.
"We've had different conditions to deal with in every game and to come into a hot, humid enclosed round and play like we did was something special. For a team that only trained together for the first time a week last Tuesday to play with such style was remarkable and I'm so proud of them. I couldn't have asked for anything more from my last game."
England Counties vs BC Bears teams
England Counties XV: Gareth Collins (Leicester Lions & Warwickshire); James Tincknell (Wharfedale & Yorkshire), Henry Staff (Blackheath & Hertfordshire), Steve Hamilton (Blackheath & Kent), Tom Jarvis (unattached & Gloucestershire); Paul Humphries (Blackheath & Kent), Will Cliff (Sale Sharks & Cheshire); Matt Long (Birmingham Solihull & Gloucstershire) capt, Jonny Roddam (Fylde & Lancashire), Craig Voisey (Rotherham & North Midlands), Louis McGowan (Coventry & Lancashire), Harry Spencer (Saracens/Bedford & Devon), Mark Wilson (Blaydon & Northumberland), Daniel Baines (Macclesfield & Lancashire), Mark Evans (Moseley & North Midlands).
Replacements: all used - Matt Hall (Blaydon & Northumberland), Nick Flynn (Sedgley Park & Lancashire), Gavin Woods (Caldy & Cheshire), Luke Collins (Redruth & Cornwall), Phil Eggleshaw (Nottingham & Durham), Ross Winney (Macclesfield & Cheshire), Kyle Dench (Harrogate & Yorkshire), Fergus Mulchrone (Macclesfield & Cheshire).
BC Bears: M Hall; B Carpenter, S Dawai, T Dalziel, B Nicholson; J Hirst, C Brown; R Hanmer, R Down, S Mackay, E Lopatinsky, M Burak capt, C Pierce, S Gay, C Morrison.
Replacements: D Cameron, L Hart, A Zaruba, S Plummer, H Belanger, J McKenzie, C Trainor, K Appledoom.
Referee: D Smortchevsky (Canada)