- Counties start tour with nine-try victory
- It is fantastic to score 66 points but I’m disappointed with the number of individual errors - Head Coach Jan Bonney
Photo: RFU Archive
Will Burton marked his England Counties debut with 26 points in a 66-13 victory over the Ugandan Barbarians in Kampala today.
Debutants Jim Wigglesworth, Dave Marwick and Billy Johnson also got on the score sheet as England ran in nine tries.
Though the Ugandans produced periods of promising play and individual skill, England proved too strong despite making a number of unforced errors and not reaching their full potential.
19 year-old Burton put England ahead with a penalty after two minutes and added another seven points soon after. A sidestep and strong running allowed Toby Howley-Berridge to break through tackles, the ball went wide through the hands of Ben Pons and Wigglesworth before being sent back inside to Burton.
Wigglesworth, who stepped up from England Counties Under 20s, was next to score. Full back Chris Briers ran the ball from deep, cutting through the Barbarians’ defence before laying it off to Johnson who showed good hands to gather the ball low and selflessly set up Wigglesworth.
England, struggling to build the phases, began forcing play and were punished by Uganda’s Arthur Mukama who broke through to take the score to 15-5.
The men in white responded through Marwick who crossed in the corner. Through good forwards’ play they moved the ball the width of the pitch after a strong take in the line out, on the opposite wing, by Richard Boyle.
Three tries were scored in the final 15 minutes of the half. Wigglesworth claimed his second, Stefan Liebenburg dummied before going over for England’s fifth while the hosts pulled one back through Asuman Mugerwa.
The second half began with an exchange of penalties, Burton taking three points only for Uganda’s Jasper Ochen to do the same, making the score 35-13.
By kicking for territory and through individual pace and skill the Ugandans put increasing pressure on England. Marwick’s second try was timely to re-establish England’s 22-point lead. Taking the ball short off the back of the breakdown, he forced his way through a tackle to go under the posts.
Photo: RFU Archive
Johnson scored England’s sixth after receiving the ball from the back of a lineout 22 metres out. After some strong running and a deft sidestep, which proved particularly popular with the crowds, he crossed the line.
Substitutions brought some of the more experienced England Counties players onto the pitch. Scrum half Harry Peck made an immediate impact with some defence splitting runs and was rewarded with a try, diving between players from the back of the breakdown to cross the line.
Good interchange between Tom Wheatcroft, Jack Smales and Peter Hodgkinson allowed the latter to score the next. Burton added the extras before a Briers counter attack gave England their ninth and final try.
Head Coach Jan Bonney said: “It is fantastic to score 66 points and some great tries but I’m disappointed with the number of individual errors that meant we struggled to get through the phases. If you give the opposition the time and opportunity then they have some great athletes and some unbelievable counter-attacking. They scored two good tries and we need to work on starving the opposition of the ball.
“We know Saturday is going to be a different and harder challenge but it was useful to have this first game, score some tries and get the victory. We will need to step it up at the weekend and cut down on errors.
“Being a new team was a factor in today’s performance, perhaps the guys were a little over enthusiastic at times. They clearly wanted to play quick expansive rugby and as a result tried to force it which we can’t afford to do at the weekend. To start the tour with a win was important and we now look forward to the next test.”
Scorers: Burton 1T, 6C, 3P; Wigglesworth 2T, Marwick 2T, Liebenburg 1T, Johnson 1T, Peck 1T, Briers 1T
England Counties (v Ugandan Barbarians):
15. Chris Briers (Fylde & Lancashire)
14. Jack Smales (Nevers & Northumberland)
13. Toby Howley-Berridge* (Unattached & Eastern Counties)
12. Steve Hamilton (Unattached & Yorkshire) (C)
11. Jim Wigglesworth* (Hull & Yorkshire)
10. Will Burton* (Luctonians & North Mids)
9. Stefan Liebenberg (Bedford & Hertfordshire)
1. Jared Saunders* (Saracens & Hertfordshire)
2. Joe Bonner* (Blackheath & Kent)
3. David Dickinson (Tynedale & Northumberland)
4. Gareth Rawlings* (Fylde & Lancashire)
5. Richard Boyle (Newcastle Falcons & Northumberland)
6. Dave Marwick* (Stockport & Cheshire)
7. Ben Pons* (Moseley & North Mids)
8. Billy Johnson* (Unattached & Hertfordshire)
16. Sam Wilkes (Cinderford & Gloucestershire)
17. Craig Voisey (Moseley & North Mids)
18. Chris Wearmouth (Blaydon & Durham)
19. Rob Baldwin (Wharfedale & Yorkshire)
20. Harry Peck (Tynedale & Northumberland)
21. Tom Wheatcroft (Ealing & Warwickshire)
22. Peter Hodgkinson (Ealing & Cheshire)
* Players who won their first caps for England Counties
England will now face the Elgon Warriors, the best players from across Kenya and Uganda on Saturday in Kampala (1600 Ugandan time) before playing them again in Nairobi on Saturday 16 (1600 Kenyan time).
Both games will be shown live on Supersport 9 across Africa.