- England Counties rout Castilla Leon Union on second tour game
- Clincal and physical display too much for hosts in Salamanca
Castilla Leon Union 10 England Counties 104
Photo: Getty Images
England Counties delivered a much more clinical display in the second match of their tour to Spain and in doing so swept aside a game, but ultimately completely outclassed Castilla Leon Union side with ease in Salamanca.
The gulf in the physicality of the two teams was obvious from the outset and while the Spanish team lacked nothing in courage and honest endeavour, once the Counties dealt with an early onslaught, they hit back with painful regularity to score 16 tries, fly half Aaron Penberthy enjoying the tidal wave of touchdowns by adding 12 conversions.
The difficulty facing the Counties selectors ahead of Saturday’s match against Spain in Valladolid was to evaluate the evidence of the victory. In reaching three figures, the Counties achieved a level of precision and discipline that proved too much for gallant opponents who were torn apart by the tourists.
No-one did more to enhance his claims for a place than centre Peter Hodgkinson, who has in a completely different class to the opposition, who were frequently undone by his balanced running, power, pace and high-class handling.
He opened the Counties scoring with a simple ‘show and go’ that carried him cleanly through and thereafter he was a constant menace that the Spanish side could never contain.
Wing Ollie Brennand grabs four tries
Chief beneficiary in the first-half was wing Ollie Brennand, who collected a hat rick of tries as his side established a 50-3 interval lead, with centre Cameron Mitchell, full back Fergus Mulchrone, twice, and wingman Curtis Wilson also crossing. Fly half Aaron Penberthy added five of his 12 conversions before the break.
Irrepressible flanker Jack Preece was rewarded for his energy with a brace of second-half tries, Mulchrone took his tally to four in taking the score into three figures and there were other tries for prop Gavin Woods, hooker Matt Hall, flanker Ben Sparks and replacement centre Steve Hamilton, Penberthy maintaining his relentless success with seven conversions.
Flanker Alvaro Nunez rewarded his side’s never-say-die tenacity with a close-range try and fly half Gareth Griffiths added the conversion to his earlier penalty.
"I was pleased with the way we kept our discipline and shape in a runaway win,” said Coach Dave Baldwin. "We said at half-time that it was important for us to work on the things that we will need to do well against Spain on Saturday and I was pleased how well we did that.
"Our game did not become untidy or loose because people were going in search of individual success and we kept to our patterns, played sensible field positions and maintained our shape well. In situations like that it’s easy not to take a real benefit out of the game, but I thought we definitely achieved that."
England Counties v Castilla Leon Union teams
Castilla Leon Union
Pedro Rodriguez; Angel Martin, Sergio Fernandez, Manuel Enrique Sevillanno (capt), Jesus Sarmentero; Gareth Griffiths, Jaun Carlos Pico; Alfonso Martinez, Pablo Cesar Guttierez, Marcal Castro, Victor Sanchez, Alesandro Gonzalez, Alvaro Nonez, Gerardo Le La Llana, Christian Utiel.
Fergus Mulchrone (Cheshire); Curtis Wilson (Leeds Carnegie & Yorkshire), Peter Hodgkinson (Bedford & Cheshire), Cameron Mitchell (Plymouth Albion & North Midlands), Ollie Brennand (Fylde & Lancashire); Aaron Penberthy (Redruth & Cornwall), Charlie Mulchrone (Macclesfield & Cheshire); Gavin Woods (Caldy & Cheshire), Matt Hall (Blaydon & Northumberland), Rob Schillaci (Hertford & Hertfordshire), Steve Pape (Rosslyn Park & Somerset), Richard Boyle (Tynedale & Northumberland), Ben Sparks (Stourbridge & Gloucestershire), Jack Preece (Birmingham Solihull & Gloucestershire), Rob Baldwin (Wharfedale & Yorkshire) capt.
Replacements (all used): Tommy Taylor (Sale Jets & Cheshire), Martin Kent (Macclesfield & Cheshire), Ben Hilton (Launceston & Cornwall), Aaron Myers (Westoe & Durham), Steve Hamilton (Rotherham & Kent), Gareth Collins (Leicester Lions & Warwickshire).
Referee: Felix Villegas (Spanish RFU).