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England U18 secure dramatic win against Wales

17 April 2011

  • England U18 through to FIRA/AER final after win against Wales
  • Lsst minute Anthony Watson try secures 38-34 triumph in France

England U18 38 Wales U18 34

Anthony Watson dives over to score England's winning try

Photo: Getty Images

England U18 dramatically secured their place in the final of the FIRA/AER Championship after overcoming neighbours Wales 38-34 at the Stade Jaques Fouroux in Auch, France.

With seconds left on the clock and England 34-31 behind, London Irish wing Anthony Watson touched down for John Fletcher’s men to clinch a tight win. At one point, England found themselves 17 points behind Wales, but clinical finishing in the final ten minutes ensured a memorable victory.

Exeter Chiefs full back Jack Nowell got England off to a dream start, showing a quick turn of pace to dart in between two Welsh players before touching down just wide of the post with one minutes on the clock.

Two try scorer Jack Nowell in action for England U18

Photo: Getty Images

Fellow Chief Henry Slade added the conversion and then scored a penalty to give England a 10-0 lead.

Despite the early setback, Wales soon sprung into life and were eventually rewarded for their efforts, scoring two converted tries in quick succession to give them a 14-10 lead. Wales then added two penalties before the break to give them a 10-point cushion at half time, leading 20-10.

England needed to start the second half as they had done the first, but it was Wales who took the early initiative, scoring shortly after the restart to make the score 27-10.

England U18 wing Jack Arnott in action

Photo: Getty Images

Northampton Saints prop Danny Herriott then kick-started the England resurgence, burrowing over for England’s second try.

But that was almost instantly cancelled out, courtesy of a breakaway fourth Welsh try scored soon after the restart to reestablish their 17-point lead.

With ten minutes left to play, England scored again through the extremely lively Nowell, who touched down for his second try of the game. Northampton Saints fly half Will Hooley converted, but England still trailed by ten points. 

Mark Jennings then scored his second try in as many games after a nice side-step move freed up a gap for the Sale Sharks centre to touch down near the posts, Hooley converted to bring England to within three points of Wales.

England U18 celebrate after winning their FIRA/AER semi final against Wales

Photo: Getty Images

With 70 minutes on the clock (the games are 35-minutes each way), Watson used his explosive pace to its full effect, dodging several Welsh defenders before diving over between the posts to guarantee England’s spot in the final against Ireland in Tarbes on Saturday, April 23.

Speaking after the match, Fletcher was full of praise for his young guns: “For the last 15 minutes we were outstanding," he said. "It’s some of the best rugby that any Under 18 team that I’ve coached have played. The game could have gone either way, but often when you finish games the strongest you come out on top.

“It was a close one – we cut it quite fine, but you have to play for the full 70-minutes. We started quite brightly, getting an early try, but we were second best for the rest of the half. I was really pleased with the second half effort though, we came out and increased the intensity and moved them around. We thought that if we did that we’d create a few gaps, and fortunately that’s what happened.”

England points: Jack Nowell 2T, Danny Herriott 1T, Mark Jennings 1T, Anthony Watson 1T. Henry Slade 2C, 1P, Will Hooley 3C. 

England U18 v Wales
Player SchoolClub
15 Jack Nowell Truro College Exeter Chiefs
14 Anthony Watson St George’s College London Irish
13 Mark Jennings Myerscough College Sale Sharks
12 Sam Hill Ivybridge College Exeter Chiefs
11 Jack Arnott Ivybridge College Exeter Chiefs
10 Henry Slade Plymouth College Exeter Chiefs
9 Alex Day St Joseph’s College Northampton Saints
1 Alec Hepburn Henley College London Wasps
2 Scott Spurling Harrow School Saracens
3 Danny Herriott Moulton College Northampton Saints
4 Tom Jubb Oaklands College Saracens
5 Dominic Barrow Prince Henry’s Grammar School Leeds Carnegie
6 David Sisi St Paul’s Catholic College London Irish
7 Matt Hankin Haileybury College Saracens
8 Jack Clifford RGS Guildford Harlequins
Player SchoolClub
16 Max Crumpton Oaklands College Saracens
17 Tom Smallbone Harrow School London Irish
18 Nathan Morris Sedbergh School London Wasps
19 Joe Robinson Sedbergh School Newcastle Falcons
20 Joe Buckle Bryanston Bath Rugby
21 James Lightfoot-Brown St. Paul's Catholic College London Irish
22 Will Hooley The Leys School Northampton Saints
23 Marcus Webber Manchester Grammar Leeds Carnegie
24 Tom Stephenson Moulton College Northampton Saints