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Test win is perfect finale for Counties

12 June 2011

  • Counties end Spain tour with Test win
  • Best performance caps three-match trip 

Spain 6 England Counties 55

England Counties celebrate their victory over a Madrid XV to open the three-match tour to Spain

Photo: RFU archive

England Counties completed their fifth successive summer tour clean sweep when they claimed another international Test scalp by beating Spain in Valladolid today (Saturday, June 11, 2011).

The Counties scored seven tries and kept their lines intact in a performance that grew from a moderate first-half effort into a dominant display after the interval which was decorated with some clinical approach work and finishing that the resolute Spanish could not contain.

Spain managed a brace of penalties by scrum-half Santiago Fernandez, but they never threatened a try as the tourists kept their shape for 80 minutes.

The Counties side could scarcely have wished for a better start, centre Steve Hamilton scoring at the posts and fly-half Ollie Thomas converting on three minutes after flanker Aaron Myers had latched onto a handling error by the home side.

Scrum-half Santiago Fernandez and Thomas then exchanged penalties as the territorial  battle fluctuated, but good work by flankers Myers and Jack Preece then produced an opening for scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone and he burst through at the posts, Thomas adding the conversion.

Fernandez and Thomas were again on the mark with penalties as both sides lost players to the sin-bin, Preece for the Counties and hooker Daniel Marron for Spain both spending the mandatory spell on the sidelines for killing the ball on the ground.

Building after the break

At 20-6 at the break, the Counties needed to develop more continuity and coherence in the second-half and rid themselves of the frenetic moments which undid some of their first-half opportunities and gave Spain all the encouragement they needed to maintain their energy levels.

After the interval, however, the Counties began to build with more precision and as they worked the ball through phases of play rather that solo moments, the tries began to flow and Spain gradually fell away.

A neat solo burst by fly-half Thomas ended in a 43rd minute try that he converted and as the Counties began to play a controlled game, they pulled away with a second try from Charlie Mulchrone, wingman Gareth Collins, No 8 Rob Baldwin and lock Ben Hilton, Thomas converting all three to take te tally past the half-century mark.

“Our performance was very good in parts and at other times we got drawn into some battles we didn’t need to be in,” said Manager Michael Old: “The commitment was there to win the ball, every ruck was hit, every ball was won and tries were scored.“

Said RFU Junior Vice-President Paul Murphy, who has been with the tour: “It’s been a fabulous tour and the last 20 minutes of this match, which involved some superb rugby, was the product of the hard work by the players and the coaches over the two weeks. Those closing minutes brought some wonderful rugby as everything they had worked on on the training ground came together.”

“I was pleased wit the last 20 minutes when we played some brilliant rugby and scored some fine tries,” said Coach Dave Baldwin: “This has been an exceptional tour from Day One and to win a Test match against Spain is the perfect culmination to the trip. They are a great bucn of lads who have trained really hard, been a pleasure to be with and fully deserve this win.”

England Counties

Fergus Mulchrone (Cheshire); Gareth Collins (Leicester Lions & Warwickshire) capt, Peter Hodgkinson (Ealing Trailfinders & Cheshire), Stephen Hamilton (Rotherham & Kent), Cameron Mitchell (Plymouth Albion & North Midlands);  Ollie Thomas (Moseley & North Midlands), Charlie Mulchrone (Macclesfield & Cheshire); Gavin Woods (Caldy & Cheshire), Tommy Taylor (Sale Jets/Macclesfield), Craig Voisey (Moseley & North Midlands),  Steve Pape (Rosslyn Park & Somerset), Ben Hilton (Launceston & Cornwall), Jack Preece (Birmingham Solihull & Gloucestershire), Aaron Myers (Westoe & Durham), Rob Baldwin (Wharfedale & Yorkshire) capt

Replacements all used: Matt Hall (Blaydon & Northumberland), Rob Schillaci (Hertford & Hertfordshire), Richard Boyle (Tynedale & Northumberland), Tom Stradwick (Henley Hawks & Kent), Jimmy Williams (Birmingham and Solihull & Gloucestershire), Tom Hughes (Preston Grasshoppers & Lancashire), Ollie Brennand (Fylde & Lancashire), Martin Kent (Macclesfield & Cheshire)

Spain

Ignacio Gutierrez; Manuel Capdeville, Nicholas Marshall, Corey Smith, Ryan Leroux; Andoni Jorajuria, Santiago Fernandez (capt); Alberto Rocha, Daniel Marron, Mattin Auzqui, Anibal Bonan, Tom Parker, David Barrera, Rafael Matt, Alejandro Ortega.

Referee: Mr Dudley Phillips (IRFU)