- England U18 Clubs and Schools lose to Worcester Warriors Academy
- Coaches experiment with combinations before Ireland clash next Sunday
England Under 18 Clubs and Schools 33 Worcester Warriors Academy Under 19 58
Photo: RFU Archive
England Under 18 Clubs and Schools went down nine tries to five in a bruising but entertaining warm up game against Worcester Warriors Academy Under 19 at Bromsgrove School.
It was the first time the team have played and the fixture consisted of two 20 and two 15 minute quarters to allow the coaches to experiment with different combinations ahead of the game against Ireland Under 18 Clubs next Sunday (Ashbourne RFC, Dublin, 11.30).
Two tries in the second quarter from Tom Bowen and Joe Bartlett and a further after half time from Tom Crozier kept England in the game but weaknesses in defence proved costly against a powerful and pacy Worcester side who utilised the width to full advantage.
England gelled as the game progressed and showed their offensive potential with inspirational runs from JJ Kilmartin and scores from Hugo Govett and Nico Woodward but a further two Worcester tries in the final ten minutes sealed the victory for the academy side.
Worcester controlled the initial play to go ahead with a penalty after five minutes. England’s pack looked strong and a driving maul instigated by a determined run from hooker Nico Woodward put England just short of the five metre line. Big hits from Worcester pushed England back and although they continued to work through the phases their play did little to threaten the solid red defence.
Worcester then achieved what England had failed to and, moving the ball effortlessly across the width of the pitch, regained the territory to score again taking the first quarter to 17-0.
England made eight scheduled changes at the break and Worcester took off key players who will feature in tonight’s A League fixture against Newcastle Falcons.
An impressive run from Louis Padian, who played for the England side two years ago aged 17, signalled that there was going to be no respite for England in the second quarter and only a strong tackle from Kilmartin denied Padian just short of the line.
When England gave away another needless penalty, Worcester built from the line out and neat footwork allowed players to skip through the England defence before a sublime sidestep from Josh Watkins, which drew applause from the spectators, created the space for him to slide over the whitewash. Tom Carlisle converted from the difficult angle to make it 24-0.
Despite having little possession England continued to work hard. Ross Harrison’s fierce tackles were typical of the forwards’ play; they were strong in the set piece and created a solid platform for the backs to build on.
England stood up well at set piece
Photo: RFU Archive
Efforts were rewarded when Harry Sloan received the ball off the back of a ruck and England ran the blind side with Joe Robinson sending it through to Bowen who, having impressed on several occasions with strong and dynamic running, accelerated across the line and under the posts. Captain Freddie Gabbitass converted to secure the full seven.
Worcester immediately responded with a further two tries but England continued to come forward. Determined to capitalise on a period of sustained possession Robinson and Daniel Lee led the charge. With a quick pick-and-go off the back of the scrum and a dummy pass, Bartlett seized on a gap in the Worcester defence to score for England just before half time, 36-14.
England once again built up through the phases in the third quarter and strong running from Robinson and Kieran Ball ensured England were crossing the gain line. James Crossley’s turn of pace won England a penalty in front of the posts and England opted for the scrum. After a passage of good play by the forwards, Crozier drove over the line to keep England in the game at 36-21 down.
Worcester were dangerous in possession and despite some telling tackles from Matthew Lamont, quick hands gave the reds space and men out wide for an easy sixth try. But driving runs from Hugh McBride and Elliot Stooke gained hard yards for the England team and Govett showed good individual strength to cross the line. Gabbitass added the extras.
Minutes after, England found themselves camped in their own 22 but absorbed the Worcester pressure well before turning the ball over. Demonstrating improved confidence and the offensive rugby the side aim to play, the ball was moved swiftly wide for a quick counter attack and Kilmartin accelerated down the pitch. Having beaten numerous players with pace and footwork, Worcester managed to get men behind the ball and with no one there for the offload Kilmartin ran out of options.
England were going uphill in every sense for the fourth quarter but Woodward repeated the fine form he had shown in the first five of the game and, carrying the ball well, drove over the line, taking three red shirts with him.
With ten minutes left to play and 15 points adrift it was not an impossible task. However, Worcester soon mounted another assault and although McBride made a try saving tackle, Rhys Owen crossed the line in the next wave of the attack to put the game well out of reach.
He then added a second try to make the scoreline 58-33, which does not give credit to the endeavour of a newly formed England side who can take positives from the game as well as identify what needs to be accomplished in training ahead of Ireland next week.
"We have learned a lot from playing a very strong and physical Worcester team," said Head Coach Paul Mullan. "We chose to play our warm up game against them because we wanted a stern test and that is what we got.
"We’ve had only had a limited amount of training time and today was an important stepping stone. It is the first time the boys have played together so we tried different combinations and different passages of play.
"We scored five tries and I’m pleased with some areas of our game but disappointed with others and that’s what we will really have to work on at the Surrey Sports Park on Friday so that we get it right and ensure that it all comes together for the Sunday against Ireland."
England Under 18 Clubs and Schools squad
Kieran Ball (Wellington College, Essex), Josh Pettet (Cranbrook, Sevenoaks, Kent), Hugh McBride (Bromsgrove School, North Midlands), Hugh Lockhart (Bromsgrove School, Bromsgrove, North Midlands), Ross Harrison (Lymm High School, Lymm, Cheshire), Joe Robinson (Sedbergh, Newcastle Falcons, Cumbria), Hugo Govett (Leeds Grammar School, Yorkshire), Nico Woodward (St. Peter’s, Coney Hill, Gloucestershire), Elliott Stooke (Hartpury College, Gloucestershire), Daniel Lee (Ivybridge Community College, Crediton, Devon), Matthew Lamont (Ivybridge Community College, Ivybridge, Devon), Tom Crozier (Colchester VI College, Colchester, Eastern Counties).
Tom Bowen (Sussex Downs College, Lewes, Sussex), James Crossley (Wymondham College, North Walsham, Eastern Counties), Harry Sloan (Skinners, Harlequins, Kent), Tom Harty (Epsom College, Cobham, Surrey), Joseph Bartlett (Ivybridge Community College, Taunton, Somerset), Freddie Gabbitass (Millfield, Bath Rugby, Somerset), Henry Purdy (Cokethorpe, Chipping Norton, Oxon), Jacob Wilson (Cokethorpe, Wasps, Oxon), Jamie-John Kilmartin (Millfield, Harlequins, Somerset), Henry Taylor (Cranleigh, Marlow, Bucks)