- England U18 defeat Australia 46-19 in North Sydney
- The first half was as good as it gets – Fletcher
Australia Schools 19 England U18 46
Photo: Getty Images
England’s talented youngsters wrapped up their tour Down Under in style, running in seven tries in a comprehensive 46-19 victory over Australia Schools.
Five first-half touchdowns and another just after the break looked to have secured a third successive victory for the tourists but a second half fightback saw the home side notch up 14 unanswered points to close the gap to 19-36 with 15 minutes left on the clock.
But led by skipper Dominic Barrow, England rallied and a penalty and converted try in the closing stages finally secured the win and earned the praise of coach John Fletcher.
“The first half was as good as it gets,” said Fletcher afterwards. “I knew we were that capable, we often train like that, but to do it when it really mattered was really pleasing.
“We’ve left some good players at home and we had three unavailable to select because of injury but today was about the boys on the park. It was an outstanding performance.”
The win means the squad fly home tomorrow with an unbeaten three victories from three matches. “It was a great way to finish the tour – and the season,” acknowledged Fletcher. “I’d like to say a big thank you to the academies and the schools. The vast majority of the work gets done there. We just put the icing on the cake.”
England wasted no time making the most of the near-perfect conditions at North Sydney’s St Ignatius’ College, scrum half James Lightfoot-Brown (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish) touching down in the third minute to get his side off to a flying start.
Photo: Getty Images
Fly half Henry Slade (Plymouth College & Exeter Chiefs) kicked off a great afternoon with the boot by adding the conversion and although he failed to add the extras to Exeter Chiefs’ full back Jack Nowell’s try five minutes later, he was on target when skipper Barrow (Prince Henry’s Grammar and Leeds Carnegie), touched down with 15 minutes on the clock.
Although England’s 19-0 lead was a fair reflection of their forward dominance, their hosts were left to rue two missed chances as handling errors twice denied them a score on the rare occasions they broke out of their own half.
With England completely dominating the contest, it seemed only a matter of time before further points followed. This time it was talented inside centre Sam Hill, one of two Ivybridge College Sams playing in midfield (Sam Jones wearing 13) who touched down, rounding off some excellent interplay by the backs and earning his reward for a consistently high workrate.
As the half approached, the two teams traded tries, wing Mark Webber (Manchester Grammar & Leeds Carnegie) cancelling out Aussie fly half David Horwitz’s effort to ensured England maintained their 26-point advantage going into the break.
Despite scoring first, Slade capping an impressive all round performance with a try of his own, England went off the boil in the second period, as Australia stepped it up, finally matching the tourists up front.
But despite recording two converted tries in eight minutes through stand out centre Jim Stewart and flanker Sean McMahon, a late England surge put the result beyond doubt as replacements Will Robinson (Twyford College & London Wasps) and Max Crumpton (Oaklands College & Saracens) added a penalty and converted try respectively, taking the final score to 46-19.
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 Danny Herriott (Moulton College & Northampton Saints)
2 Scott Spurling (Harrow School & Saracens)
3 Kyle Sinckler (Epsom College & Harlequins)
4 Tom Price (Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth 1st & Leicester Tigers)
5 Dominic Barrow (Prince Henry’s Grammar & Leeds Carnegie) (captain)
6 Joe Buckle (Bryanston & Bath Rugby)
7 Matt Hankin (Haileybury College & Saracens)
8 David Sisi (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish)
Replacements (all used)
16 Max Crumpton (Oaklands College & Saracens) for 2 (53mins)
17 Tom Jubb (Oaklands College & Saracens) for 6 (56)
18 George Sandford (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish) for 4 (35)
19 Tom Stephenson (Moulton College & Northampton Saints) for 13 (68)
20 Alex Day (St Joseph’s College & Northampton Saints) for 9 (40)
21 Oliver Rosillo (Harrogate Grammar & Leeds Carnegie) for 11 (60)
22 Will Robinson (Twyford College & London Wasps) for 10 (60)
23 Zach Kibirge (Yarm School & Newcastle Falcons) for 14 (68)
Scorers: T Lightfoot-Brown, Nowell, Barrow, Hill, Webber, Slade, Crumpton; P Robinson; C Slade (3), Robinson.