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Gray reflects on ‘tough’ Baby Boks win

19 June 2011

  • Alex Gray says that South Africa game was one of his toughest
  • I can’t remember being in a game that tense for a long time – Gray
England captain Alex Gray in action for England U20

Photo: Getty Images

England U20 captain Alex Gray says that victory against South Africa in the IRB Junior World Championship was hard fought, but thoroughly deserved.

Gray was among the try-scorers for England in their 26-20 win, a victory that guaranteed his side a semi-final spot against France in Treviso.

Speaking after the game, Gray said: “It was really tough out there, it was a case of two talented sides giving absolutely everything to make sure they got into the next round, and fortunately we edged it.

“They really came at us and we had to fight until the death – I lost count of the number of try-saving tackles we made.”

“It was definitely one of the hardest matches I’ve played in, especially those last five minutes – I can’t remember being in a game that tense for a long time. It’s good to have that experience in the bank though, and hopefully it will stand us in good stead for our semi final against France.”

England scored early in the first half through London Wasps centre Elliot Daly, while Gray’s try came just minutes into the second half. The early intensity was a pre-planned game plan according to the Falcons man.

England captain Alex Gray in action for England U20

Photo: Getty Images

“The aim was to get stuck into them from the off,” Gray said. “Fortunately we started both halves by scoring a try. I was lucky enough to get on the end of a nice team move to score at the start of the second, but was difficult to feel comfortable because South Africa were always within touching distance.

“They’re one of the best sides in the world so it’s hard to stop them – they live on momentum. Our objective was to stop that momentum and at times we did, and on other occasions we just had to scramble for our lives.”

“The boys played well and I’m proud of what we have achieved so far in this competition, but there’s still a long way to go. A few of the boys pulled out some amazing last-ditch try saving tackles and that just sums up the spirit within the camp and how hard we’re prepared to work for each other.”

“We all want to achieve something and we want to fight hard and win for each other as well – you can’t coach that, you can’t develop that, it’s just something that comes from within.

England face France in the semi-finals, and will want to replicate the 19-8 win achieved against the French in this season’s 6 Nations, although Gray understands that it will be difficult.

He said: “France are up next for us and even though we beat them in the 6 Nations a few months back that counts for very little. It’s a different ball game out here and they’re in good form, but so are we.”

Reaction from England U20 players on Twitter:

Dan Robson (@DJ_Robson)
Massive win last night, shame not to get on but the boys were awesome, bring on the semi's #defence

England U20 players celebrate their win against South Africa

Photo: Getty Images

Andy Short (@AndyJShort)
Thanks for all the good luck and congrats messages yesterday.... Was a tough physical game, on to the semis. The support was awesome. #jwc

Ben Ransom (@BR8nsom)
Great game and fantastic result! #comeonengland

Mako Vunipola (@Mako_Vunipola)
Best feeling ever to win a hard fought test match! cheers for the support x

Sam Jones (@SF_Jones)
Hit the wall halfway through the second half. All worth it for that winning feeling... Semi-final time

Charlie Matthews (@CMatthews5)
Thanks for all the support, really appreciated! easily the toughest game I have ever played, but I loved every minute of it!! #Bedtime!

Christian Wade (@ChristianWade3)
Great WIN tonight against the Boks!!! Next step, Semi Finals ya'll. Thank you for all your support tweeps! :-D