- 19-8 win for English youngsters in Australia
- We’re pleased with our performance – Fletcher
Australia Academy U19 8 England U18 19
Photo: Getty Images
England’s young guns kicked off their summer tour Down Under with a 19-8 victory over an Australian Academy U19 side, outmuscling and out-kicking their older opponents.
With the sides scoring one try apiece, it was the boot of Henry Slade that proved the difference, the Plymouth College and Exeter Chiefs fly half kicking four penalties and converting London Irish scrum half James Lightfoot-Brown's try.
Said head coach John Fletcher afterwards, “One year can make a big difference in age grade rugby. The Australians were a big side so we’re pleased with our performance and the boys will be better for it come Wednesday.”
Fletcher’s side will take on a midweek Australian Schools A side before their final test a week next Sunday. “Man for man they were bigger but we stuck together and I thought our pack was the dominant force in the game. Henry Slade kicked well and in tight games like these it’s important to keep the scoreboard ticking over,” he added.
After conceding a try in the opening minutes, when Australian prop Gary Neugebauer drove over from a lineout in the left hand corner, England dominated the first half, their committed defence and tactical kicking confining the home team in their own half.
Slade opened the visitors’ account with a penalty after eight minutes to close the deficit to two points. After missing a second opportunity 10 minutes later, England eventually capitalised on their dominance of territory and possession, when a nice blind-side break from scrum half Lightfoot-Brown afforded Slade another kick at the posts. This time he made no mistake, putting his side 6-5 ahead after 28 minutes.
Photo: Getty Images
The home side dominated the second quarter but led by the imposing lock Dominic Barrow (Prince Henry’s Grammar and Leeds Carnegie), the England pack’s aggressive tackling held them at bay, eventually forcing a turnover which allowed the backs to run the ball out of danger.
When a 60m break from wing Marcus Webber set up a lineout inside the Australian 22, the English pack made it count, with the impressive Lightfoot-Brown stealing the ball to burrow over in the right hand corner. Slade’s conversion in the final minute extended England’s lead to 13-5 going into the break.
The home side fought back with a Dion Taumata penalty in the opening minutes of the second half but despite dominating proceedings for the next 20 minutes, the commitment and physicality of the visitors forced a number of handling errors that left them with little else to show for their efforts.
With Aussie hooker Roach sent to the sin bin, Slade slotted a third penalty, adding a fourth with 58 minutes on the clock. Invigorated by a flurry of substitutions the England line held firm, surviving a succession of Australian attacks and although some slick handling and a decent break by full back Jack Nowell eventually came to nothing, the visitors weathered the Australian storm to record a convincing and well deserved victory.
Scorers: T Lightfoot-Brown; P Slade 4; C Slade
England U18 starting XV
15 Jack Nowell (Truro College & Exeter Chiefs)
14 Marcus Webber (Manchester Grammar & Leeds Carnegie),
13 Sam Jones (Ivybridge College & Exeter Chiefs)
12 Sam Hill (Ivybridge College & Exeter Chiefs),
11 Jack Arnott (Ivybridge College & Exeter Chiefs)
10 Henry Slade (Plymouth College & Exeter Chiefs)
9 James Lightfoot-Brown (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish)
1 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Truro College & Exeter Rugby)
2 Scott Spruling (Harrow & Saracens)
3 Danny Herriott (Moulton College & Northampton Saints)
4 Tom Price (Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth 1st & Leicester Tigers)
5 Dominic Barrow (Prince Henry’s Grammar & Leeds Carnegie)
6 David Sisi (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish)
7 Matt Hankin (Haileybury College & Saracens)
8 Jack Clifford (RGS Guildford & Harlequins)
16 Max Crumpton (Oaklands College & Saracens)
17 Kyle Sinckler (Epsom College & Harlequins)
18 George Sandford (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish)
19 Tom Jubb (Oaklands College & Saracens)
20 Joe Buckle (Bryanston & Bath Rugby)
21 Alex Day (St Joseph’s College & Northampton Saints)
22 Will Robinson (Twyford College & London Wasps)
23 Tom Stephenson (Moulton College & Northampton Saints)
REFEREE: Rohan Hoffman