- Bar is raised after mixed display in Madrid by England Counties
- Injury to scrum half Harry Peck ends tour
Photo: RFU Archive
England Counties XV suffered the first serious injury blow of their three-match tour to Spain when scrum half Harry Peck damaged his shoulder in the opening game against a Madrid XV in Madrid.
Ironically, the 21-year-old Newcastle University student from the Tynedale club suffered his injury while he was in the act of scoring a smart solo try in the second-half. The two defenders who converged on him near the line not strong enough to prevent him from scoring, but they accidentally managed to put an end to his tour.
"It’s very disappointing, but it’s the way things go sometimes," he said, accepting his fate with great stoicism. "At least I managed to get an England shirt and also scored a try while wearing it, so that was something. It’s a pity because I was really enjoying the trip."
The Counties management are now seeking to find a replacement who can come out to Valladolid, to where the team has decamped to ahead of Wednesday’s (June 8, 6pm kick-off) game in Salamanca against a Castilla Leon Union XV.
Despite an eight-try haul and a half-century of points, the mood in the camp was far from triumphal in the cold light of day when the initial euphoria had given way to a reality check.
While there was satisfaction in the camp at an opening win, some well executed tries and a number of strong individual displays, disappointment at three tries conceded, opportunities missed, poor discipline and a failure to develop any phase rugby with its origins in coherence and precision was the more prevalent emotion.
Counties reflect on performance not result
Photo: RFU Archive
"On reflection I’m a bit disappointed with the performance," said captain Gareth Collins. "We’d have probably taken the result from the first game on tour, but given the calibre of the opposition, conceding 24 points wasn’t very good.
"We’ve a fair bit of work to do this week. Wednesday’s game against the Castilla Leon Union will probably be a tougher test, so we need to be more clinical and more accurate in everything we do. Yesterday’s performance was a bit loose, but I’m sure now we have the game under our belt we will improve and build up for Saturday’s test against Spain."
"We have to play significantly better in the next game if want to win against Spain, which is our ultimate goal," said Backs Coach Jan Bonney. "There were good individual bits, but in terms of a team performance, I was disappointed. I certainly had higher expectations of how we would play. To get 53 points is fantastic, but to concede 24 is disturbing against an average Madrid side.
"I think the players realise that and it’s a mindset thing now for them in how they react when we review the game. I reckon we should have had 70 points and no tries conceded. That’s the standard I’m expecting of this team and I know the lads have the ability to deliver that kind of performance."
And another player’s perspective: "We were a bit erratic," said debut lock Ben Hilton. "I think the heat was a factor, but we have to recognise that when you build a try through phases of play, it’s so simple. Kick for position, set up a drive, execute overlaps or just drive over. We need to stay calm and not try to take the extra yard, which you wouldn’t do with your club side."