- England Counties fall to late try
- Match day squad included 12 newcomers
France Federale XV 16 England Counties XV 15
England Counties were edged out by a well-organised France Federale side in a close encounter in Nevers on Friday (January 31).
The Counties XV led 15-13 until they were penalised for collapsing a maul three minutes from time, which gave France the opportunity to avenge last year’s defeat at Ealing.
But the performance of an inexperienced Counties side, with 12 newcomers in the squad, encouraged team manager Mike Old ahead of their second international of the season against Ireland Clubs XV at Darlington Mowden Park on February 21.
“The players were very disappointed to get beaten at the last hurdle after a huge effort to play on a very heavy pitch against a large and well-drilled French team,” Old said.
“But we are looking forward to building on this performance against Ireland in Darlington in three weeks’ time.”
The Counties XV tries came from an outstanding individual effort from Cambridge full back Jim Wigglesworth and one from close range from captain Chris Johnson, the Fylde fly half.
Johnson converted Wigglesworth’s try and he also landed a penalty. But Johnson’s attempt to convert his own try was charged down, which was to prove a key moment as the match unfolded.
England Counties XV (v France Federale XV)
15 Jim Wigglesworth (Cambridge)
14 Chris Briers (Fylde)
13 Jack Adams (Cinderford)
12 Luke Myring (Coventry)
11 Cameron Mitchell (Darlington Mowden Park)
10 Chris Johnson (Fylde – captain)
9 Richard Bolt (Exmouth)
1 Robbie Kalbraier (Blaydon)
2 Brett McNamee (Old Albanians)
3 Matt Shields (Tynedale)
4 Chris Wearmouth (Blaydon)
5 Ben Hilton (Launceston)
6 Tom Stradwick (Blackheath)
7 Rob Stapley (Henley)
8 Gavin Jones (Blaydon)
Johnny Matthews (Sedgley Park)
Jamal Ford-Robinson (Cambridge)
Mark McCraith (Bishop’s Stortford)
Matt Heeks (Rosslyn Park)
Kiba Richards (Worthing)
Sean Taylor (Preston Grasshoppers)
Replacements not used: Bertie Haskins (Blackheath), Pierce Phillips (Darlington Mowden Park)