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England Counties ready for French test

18 March 2010

  • Hodgson out to avenge France defeat
  • England Counties ready for France Amateurs

England Counties XV manager Danny Hodgson is still smarting from his team’s performance the last time they played France Amateurs and that disappointment is sure to motivate his team ahead of this weekend's game in Lille (March 19, 2010, kick-off 20.00).

“We must beat France this time,” he says: “We got beaten by them at Twickenham last year, when we were well below our best. A setting like that, our first outing at Twickenham, and we let the occasion beat us.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, that’s what happened. We just didn’t perform. We could have done a lot better.

“This year I think we’ve the strongest squad that we’ve ever had for the spring internationals and we have a great performance against the AIB Ireland Clubs behind us. Now we hajve to take this game to the French.

“I watched them play against the Scotland Clubs XV in January at Galashiels and they’re a decent side. Scotland beat them 13-9 and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t beat them with the side we have. We’ve got tidy backs, a solid pack of forwards, a good scrummaging pack, an excellent back-row – there’s no reason why we can’t do well.”

Warnings of fluctuating form and the need to be clinical and consistent over 80 minutes will doubtless be delivered by coaches Dave Baldwin and Jan Bonney after a nerve-jangling finale against the Irish at Stourbridge.

Having established a 26-3 interval lead, the Counties were hanging on at the death as the visitors mounted a furious second-half revival.

“We played really well for 40 minutes against the Irish.” said Baldwin. “We got some attacking ball and looked to move it around and were guilty of some complacency in the second half against Ireland, gave away some cheap ball and possibly even tired a bit on a very heavy.

“A lot will depend on whether we can win the ball in the first place and whether we can keep it. We’ve got the players who can win lineout and scrum ball and we’ve the pace around the field to recycle ball and the skills levels to play some good rugby.

England Counties XV to face France Amateurs

Frankie Neale (London Scottish & Kent)
Hamish Smales (Tyndale & Northumberland)
Rory Damant (London Scottish & Surrey)
Mark Bedworth (Wharfedale & Durham)
Jonathon Hylton (Esher & Surrey)
James Brown (London Scottish)
Tom Richardson (Stourbridge & Berkshire)
Johnathan Williams (Tynedale & Northumberland)
Joe Graham  (Tynedale & Cumbria)
Andrew Fahey (London Scottish)
Tom Bason (Blackheath) (C)
Robert Anderson (Esher & Hertfordshire)
Daniel Legge (Cambridge & Essex)
Darren Fox (Cambridge)
Rob Baldwin (Wharfedale & Yorkshire).

Matthew Hall (Blaydon & Northumberland)
Nick Flynn (Sedgley Park & Lancashire)
Matthew Owen (Macclesfield & Cheshire)
Dan Baines (Macclesfield & Lancashire)
Graham Barr (Rosslyn Park & Middlesex)
James Fitzpatrick (Blaydon & Durham)
Gareth Collins (Leicester Lions & Warwickshire)


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