- England Students beat Portugal 30-16
- “A thoroughly deserved victory” – Farndon
Portugal 16 - 30 England Students
Photo: RFU Archive
England Students put in an accomplished display against Portugal on Friday night to record their second successive victory against the side ranked 22nd in the IRB World Rankings.
This fixture was the first of the season for the England Students and an important challenge before playing France Students this Friday.
Head Coach James Farndon’s side started on the front foot and were rewarded with a penalty at the scrum. Fly half Sam Katz (Loughborough University), who masterminded England’s victory last year, stepped up and put the ball between the uprights to claim the first points of the game and put England three up.
England continued to pile on the pressure and won themselves a penalty on the oppositions five metre line. Captain George Messum (Loughborough University) opted for the corner and, following some spirited Portuguese defence, the English backline let loose with some expansive play that culminated in Jake Henry (Cardiff Metropolitan University) crossing the white wash. Katz added the extras to put England 10-0 up.
Portugal began to retain possession and were able to capitalise on this pressure, the boot of Leal converted two penalty kicks. However, it seemed only a matter of time before England would score again after coming close on several occasions. The break came on the 24th minute as Jake Henry powered through his opposite man and sprinted the length of the pitch for his, and England’s, second try of the game. The conversion was unsuccessful leaving the scores at 15-6.
England's defence held firm
Portugal soon addressed the difference with a try of their own, second row Rui D’Orey touched down after a strong driving maul and that sparked a resurgence in the Portuguese side, they lifted their tempo and spent prolonged periods of time deep in English territory.
England’s defence held firm, wining penalties and turning over their opponents at the breakdown, which would become characteristic of this valiant English performance. England managed to hold out and went into half-time leading 15-11.
England were the first on the score board after half-time, with Rodwell breaking through the last defender to cross for a well-deserved try which Katz was unable to convert.
Portugal responded ten minutes later as their pack drove another maul over the English line, this time No. 8 Vasco Uva scored but the conversion was unsuccessful.
Five minutes later Sam Katz extended the English lead with a successful penalty attempt and both sides looked to their benches to bring on some fresh legs as replacements entered the field.
The English substitutions in the pack had a strong impact at scrum time as they marched the opposition back to their own line, the solid platform allowed Katz to glide through to score and convert his own try to make it 30-16 which is how it stayed.
Head Coach Farndon said: “It was a thoroughly deserved victory. We played with intensity, tempo and physicality, and finished the chances we were given.”
Captain George Messum said: “The mind-set of the boys out there was fantastic. The character as individuals and the heart of the squad was really impressive.”
15 Nuno Penha Costa, 14 Gonҫalo Foro, 13 António Aguilar, 12 Carl Murray, 11 Vincent Pereira, 10 Pedro Leal, 9 Francisco P. Magalhães; 1 Jorge Segurado, 2 Francisco Tavares, 3 Bruno Rocha, 4 Rui D’Orey, 5 Gonҫalo Uva, 6 Luis Portel, 7 Salvador Vassalo, 8 Vasco Uva
Replacements: 16 Francisco Domingues, 17 Bruno Mederios replaced Jorge Segurado 53 mins, 18 João Almeida replaced Bruno Rocha 53 mins, 19 Fernando Almeida replaced Gonҫalo Uva 57 mins, 20 Gere Maree replaced Vasco Uva 53 mins, 21 Diogo Miranda replaced Salvador Vassalo 52 mins, 22 Charly Morais replaced António Aguilar 57 mins, 23 Kevin da Costa replaced Pedro Leal 52 mins
15 Guy Wood (Cardiff Metropolitan University), 14 Jake Henry (Cardiff Metropolitan University), 13 Ben Axton-Burrett (Cardiff Metropolitan University), 12 Sebastian Rodwell (Hartpury College), 11 Murray Galbraith-Lowe (Durham University), 10 Sam Katz (Loughborough University), 9 Oliver Claxton (University of Exeter); 1 Matthew Beesley (Leeds Metropolitan University), 2 James Stephenson (Bristol University), 3 Adam Jamieson (Bath University), 4 Sean Robinson (Durham University), 5 Josh Walker (Cardiff Metropolitan University), 6 George Messum (Loughborough University) (C), 7 Tom Hall (Cardiff Metropolitan University), 8 Freddie Clarke (Bath University)
Replacements: 16 Lovejoy Chawatama (University West of England, Bristol) replaced Matthew Beesley 52 mins, 17 Alex Boggis (Nottingham University) replaced Adam Jamieson 70 mins, 18 Tom Crozier (Loughborough University) replaced James Stephenson 64 mins, 19 James Gray (University of Exeter) replaced Josh Walker 52 mins, 20 Robert Coote (University of Exeter) replaced Oliver Claxton 56 mins, 21 Mark Cooke (Cardiff Metropolitan University) replaced Freddie Clarke 56 mins, 22 Ruaridh McConnochie (University of Gloucestreshire) replaced Sebastian Rodwell 60 mins