- England Under 18s Clubs and Schools 29-36 Northampton Saints Academy
- Two Saints' tries in the final six minutes deny England their first victory
Photo: Capture the Event
Four tries from winger Jordan Burns was not enough to overcome Northampton Saints Academy, who clinched victory with a try in the closing minutes in yesterday’s warm-up fixture.
The England Clubs and Schools’ squad met for the first time on Friday morning but in bright weather conditions, which favoured a high tempo match of end to end rugby, they demonstrated real potential.
Burns showed unrivalled pace for his four breakaway tries, however it was a team effort that created the attacking opportunities and big tackles in all areas of the field ensured a strong Northampton side had to work hard to win and maintain possession.
Fly half Louis Grimoldby started the scoreboard ticking inside the first five minutes when he slotted a penalty from the half way line.
A period of Northampton pressure followed but England’s drift defence proved effective until they conceded two penalties in succession. A quick tap and go within five metres allowed Northampton to drive over in the corner.
Reed - 'We played with real spirit today'
England replied minutes later when Burns intercepted a Northampton pass by the halfway line, sped down the outside channel and came round under the posts, ensuring an easy conversion for Grimoldby.
Northampton continued to move the ball out wide and twice winger Linford Brock used the whitewash to England’s advantage, bundling the Northampton attack into touch. Captain Henry Taylor used his boot to clear the lines but England were eventually turned over within their 22 and made to pay as Northampton crossed again.
Photo: Capture the Event
Harry Sloan stood out for his strong defensive performance and a big hit caused the ball to run loose on the halfway. Burns capitalised with a perfectly weighted kick-through which he chased and gathered two metres from the line before touching down. Grimoldby added the extras.
It looked as if England would take the seven point lead into half time until ill-discipline cost them again and the Saint’s forwards repeated their try-scoring antics, driving low to touch down at the foot of the posts. Northampton converted on the whistle to make it level pegging at the break, 17-17.
Saints were first to cross the line in the second half and kept England under pressure. Crucial tackles by James Flynn and Cameron Neild eventually forced turnover ball and the opportunity for England to build the phases from within their 22.
Strong forward play set the platform for Taylor to feed Henry Purdy, whose hand-off created space for an offload to Burns. The winger accelerated past the Northampton defence for his hat-trick and the additional two points from the boot of Grimoldby put England back in front 24-22.
Mass substitutions took place with 20 minutes to go when the six players who featured in yesterday’s Daily Mail RBS semi finals were allowed to take to the field. Those changes required Burns to move to scrum half however this did nothing to stop his scoring streak.
The forwards packed down on the half way line and another strong drive from England secured the ball which Burns gathered before setting off on a darting run through the Northampton backs to touch down for his fourth. Grimoldby was unfortunate to hit the post and miss out on a full house of conversions.
Photo: Capture the Event
With six minutes to go, England held a 29-22 lead. A win was in sight, but Northampton controlled possession and England were twice caught short out wide allowing the Saints to equalise 29-29, before moving ahead 36-29.
Following a disappointing end to an exciting game, Head Coach David Reed said: “We played with real spirit today. Prior to the match we set two goals: to have good communication and to be accurate in our execution. There were periods of the game when we ticked both boxes and we now need to ensure that we’re doing that for the full match.
“Today has shown that we have a lot to work on but when you take into account that due to the Daily Mail RBS semi-finals, we have only had four hours of training as a full squad, we’re in a good position. The boys have responded well in the last few days and I’m looking forward to building on this match during our next training weekend in a fortnight.”
ngland Schools and Clubs' points:
Burns 4T, Grimoldby 1P, 3C
Starting Line Up:
15. Michael Haley (North, Sale Sharks)
14. Linford Brock (South West, Exeter College, Devon)
13. Henry Purdy (South West, Cokethorpe School, London Wasps)
12. Harry Sloan (London and South East, Skinners School, Harlequins)
11. Jordan Burns (London and South East, Epsom College, Cobham)
10. Louis Grimoldby (Midlands, Stamford School)
9. Henry Taylor (c) (South West, Cranleigh, Harlequins)
1. George Beale (Midlands, Bromsgrove School, Worcester)
2. Curtis Greene (Midlands, St Joseph’s College (Stoke-on-Trent), Trentham)
3. James Flynn (North, Stockport Grammar School, Manchester)
4. Morgan Robinson-Eames (Midlands, Bishop Burton College, Hull)
5. Matthew Spink (Midlands, Worcester Sixth Form College, Birmingham Solihull)
6. Jacob Nickson (North, Arnold School, Fylde)
7. Cameron Neild (North, Manchester Grammar School, Sale Sharks)
8. Guy Van Den Dries (North, Barnard Castle, Newcastle Falcons)
16. Gabriel Carroll (London South East, St. Joseph’s College, Sudbury, Northampton Saints) 53 minutes
17. Ed Taylor (Midlands, Old Swinford Hospital, Bridgenorth) 42 minutes
18. Dan Keat (South West, Hardenhuish, Chippenham) 55 minutes
19. Max Stelling (Midlands, Old Swinford Hospital, Moseley) 53 minutes
20. Chris Lord (London and South East, St. Joseph’s College, Bury St. Edmunds) 53 minutes
21. Joe Tarrant (London and South East, St. Joseph’s College, Colchester) 53 minutes
22. Shaquille Meyers (London and South East, St. Joseph’s College, Diss and Bedford Blues) 53 minutes
Friday 23 - Sunday 25 March:
Squad Training: Surrey Sports ParkFriday 6th – Saturday 7th April:
Squad Training: Surrey Sports ParkSunday 8th April:
Warm-Up Fixture v Leicester Tigers Academy: Welford Road /The Oval (TBC) KO 13.00Friday 13th April:
Squad Training: Surrey Sports ParkSaturday 14th April:
International Fixture v Ireland U18 Clubs: Old Merchant Taylors’ FC KO 12.00
Tickets £5 available via https://www.eventelephant.com/u18englandvsireland