- England U18 C&S lose tight match against Tigers
- Only going to get better – Dave Reed
England Under 18 Clubs and Schools 25 Leicester Tigers Academy 28
Photo: Dave Wainwright
England Under 18 Clubs and Schools produced a spirited comeback to leave Leicester Tigers Academy hanging on for victory at Welford Road today (Sunday).
Dave Reed’s young charges were 28-5 down at one stage of a thrilling contest but showed terrific powers of recovery to fall agonisingly short of the try they needed to snatch victory.
England have only had a few hours training time together and Reed admitted it showed early on as Leicester roared into a commanding lead.
It had started well for the England youngsters as inside-centre Henry Purdy showed a superb turn of pace to thread his way through the Leicester cover and score an excellent try after just three minutes although the extras were missed.
The score prompted Leicester into an immediate response but England’s defence kept them just short of the line before it was breached following a scrum a metre from the line with Mitch Turner claiming the score and Rory Lynn adding the Leicester conversion.
More defensive heroics denied Lynn a second try for Leicester before England emphasised the end-to-end nature of the contest with a break of their own.
The outstanding Shaquille Meyers powered down the left but his neat pass to Michael Haley was ruled forward and Leicester survived.
Leicester responded as they had done earlier and made it 12-5 with a left-wing break finished off by Stephen Macauley and Lynn adding the conversion to put the home side 14-5 ahead.
England were then forced on the back foot for a lengthy period as Leicester extended their advantage through a George Oliver try from close in and Lynn was again successful from the conversion attempt.
It was 28-5 to Leicester when Macauley scored his second try – Lynn added the extras – but instead of folding, the England players dominated the closing stages of the first half.
Photo: Dave Wainwright
Luke Jones, whose first start was an historic one for the island of Guernsey where he lives, was stopped just short of line but the pressure finally told as flanker Gabriel Carroll forced his way through with Joe Tarrant adding the conversion.
That reward for late pressure raised the confidence levels in the England camp and they started the second half in similar positive fashion.
Full-back Max Stelling’s excellent try cut the deficit to just nine points after replacement Louis Grimoldby added the extras and England really had their tails up.
Leicester conceded a penalty as England continued to pile on the pressure and Grimoldby’s kick was a good one with the home side now hanging on at 28-22.
There was a reprieve for England as Lynn missed a penalty for the home side and Henry Taylor’s clever chip-through almost brought its rewards before Grimoldby slipped in his follow-through as a penalty chance for England went begging.
But Grimoldby found his range and accuracy with another penalty to leave England just three points behind with less than five minutes to play.
They spent the entire period encamped near the Leicester line but just could not force a breakthrough although it was a wonderful response to a difficult situation – and a real confidence boost ahead of this weekend’s international against Ireland.
Head coach Reed was delighted with the youngsters’ effort at Welford Road.
He said: “They are a set of lads who have only had 12 hours training time together and to go to Leicester in their own backyard and to get within a score of them is a phenomenal feat for this group.
“The preparation time is small so to get two games in before the international against Ireland is vital and they are only going to get better.
“We had six boys away with the Daily Mail Cup in our first session but the response from the squad has been just to get on with the task.
“We have a training session on Friday before the Ireland game on Saturday and all I can is ‘bring it on’".
Points: Purdy 1T, Carroll 1T, Stelling 1T; Tarrant 1C, Grimoldby 2P 1C
15 Max Stelling (Midlands, Old Swinford Hospital, Worcester Warriors)
14 Luke Jones (Channel Isles, Guernsey College, Guernsey)
13 Michael Haley (North, Myerscough College, Sale Sharks)
12 Henry Purdy (South West, Cokethorpe School, London Wasps)
11 Chris Lord (London and South East, St Joseph’s College, Ipswich)
10 Joe Tarrant (London and South East, St Joseph’s College, Colchester)
9 Jordan Burns (London and South East, Epsom College, Harlequins)
8 Guy Van Den Dries (North, Barnard Castle, Newcastle Falcons)
7 Gabriel Carroll (London and South East, St Joseph’s College, Sudbury, Northampton Saints)
6 Shaquille Meyers (London and South East, St Joseph’s College, Diss and Bedford Blues)
5 Ed Taylor (Midlands, Old Swinford Hospital, Worcester Warriors)
4 Joe Joyce (South West, Filton College, Bristol and Southmead)
3 Alec Clarey (North, Barnard Castle, Leicester Tigers)
2 Curtis Greene (Midlands, St Joseph’s College, Stoke and Trentham)
1 Dan Keat (South West, Hardenhuish, Chippenham)
17 Morgan Robinson-Eames (Midlands, Bishop Burton College, Hull) on 42 minutes
18 James Flynn (North, Stockport Grammar School, Manchester) on 42 minutes
19 Cameron Neild (North, Manchester Grammar School, Sale Sharks) on 42 minutes
20 Jacob Nickson (North, Arnold School, Fylde) on 42 minutes
21 Henry Taylor (South West, Cranleigh, Harlequins) on 42 minutes
22 Louis Grimoldby (Midlands, Stamford School, Northampton Saints) on 42 minutes
Remaining England Programme:
Friday 13th April: Squad Training: Surrey Sports Park
Saturday 14th April: International Fixture v Ireland U18 Clubs, Old Merchant Taylors’ FC. KO 12.00
Tickets £5 available via