- Late penalty seals Counties’ fate
- Georgia avenge midweek defeat
England Counties Under 20 22 Georgia Under 20 23
Photo: Chris Fell
England Counties Under 20 head coach Bob Hood was left to rue some missed chances after his side suffered an agonising defeat against a well-organised Georgia side at Cambridge’s Volac Park today.
England appeared to have snatched victory when replacement scrum half Rhodri Adamson landed a touchline conversion after wing Jack Rossiter had levelled the scores at 20-20 with a late try.
But there was still time for England to concede a penalty for handling in a ruck which gave Georgia full back Giorgi Babunashvili the chance to kick the penalty that won an entertaining contest.
The defeat for the Under 20s followed two one-point reverses for the England Counties senior side against France Federale and Ireland Club XV earlier in the season, and Hood found it tough to hide his disappointment.
“I would say Georgia deserved their win in the end,” he said. “I think we didn’t convert our pressure very well in the first half and that cost us. “Hats off to Georgia because they have turned it round in a few days. I don’t think we were complacent, I just think we couldn’t get our patterns and structures functioning in the first half.
“I said to the boys that success is not a destination, it’s a journey and we will continue with the journey. Anything they can take out of this and move back to their clubs is fantastic. It’s the bigger picture. It’s a great day for Georgia. To their credit they kept going right to the last minute but I feel as if we had some opportunities that we didn’t capitalise on.
“Our players have experienced different cultures, different styles of play and they will go back better rugby players. They will take a lot of positives back. It’s the process rather than the game that will be the winner in the end.
“They have gelled and made friendships. Their parents will be very proud and the scoreline in the end was 23-22 and you could really say that a draw would have been a good result. But rugby was the winner right through.”
England had expected a backlash from Georgia after they beat them 36-10 in a midweek match at Shelford and they made life difficult for themselves by playing to Georgia’s strengths up front.
Georgia’s centres Devi Devsurashvili and Temuri Iremadze caused problems throughout but it was left wing Davit Gulitashvili who scored the opening try after a sustained attack which fly-half Jintchvelashvili converted.
England hit back just before the half-hour when openside flanker Jack Alcock clattered through for an unconverted try, but Jintchvelashvili landed a penalty just before the break to give Georgia a 10-5 lead at half-time.
Another Jintchvelashvili penalty seven minutes into the second half stetcched Georgia’s lead but England reduced it to a point when left wing Kwaku Asiedu ran back a poor clearance kick and created space for tighthead prop Jack Culverhouse to step over for the try which Ben Penfold, one of four Cambridge players in the side, improved.
But Culverhouse was sent off seven minutes later along with Georgia’s loosehead prop Mataradze Tornike for punching during a flare-up.
England took the lead for the first time after 73 minutes when Adamson struck a penalty but Georgia were resilient and responded with a sustained attack that led to Babunashvili dotting down from close range for a try that he also improved.
Rossiter’s try, after patient approach work had created the overlap for the wing, and Adamson’s superb conversion appeared to have clinched victory but Georgia’s resistance had not been broken and they snatched a win that was celebrated joyously by their small band of supporters when Babunashvili landed his late penalty.
England Counties Under 20
15 Ollie Walker (Percy Park and Northumberland)
14 Jack Rossiter (Richmond and Berkshire)
13 Sam Hanks (Cinderford and Gloucestershire)
12 Ali Heard (Hull and Yorkshire)
11 Kwaku Asiedu (Canterbury and Kent)
10 Ben Penfold (Cambridge and East Midlands)
9 Jack Daly (Cambridge and East Midlands)
1 Jamal Ford-Robinson (Cambridge and East Midlands)
2 Finlay Sinclair (Cinderford and Gloucestershire)
3 Jack Culverhouse (Hertford and Hertfordshire)
4 Stuart Nel (Beverley and Yorkshire)
5 Luke Frixou (Derby and NLD)
6 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Blackheath and Kent)
7 Jack Alcock (Darlington Mowden Park and Yorkshire)
8 Guy Van Dan Vries (Darlington Mowden Park and Yorkshire, captain)
Replacements (all used): Tom Larder (Darlington Mowden Park and Durham), Sam White (Tynedale and Northumberland), Josh Redfern (Sheffield Tigers and Yorkshire), Sam Harry (Cambridge and Eastern Counties), William Seville (Richmond and Surrey), Rhodri Adamson (Winchester, Newcastle University and Northumberland), Bertie Hopkin (Guildford and Surrey), Cameron Hudson (Beverley and Yorkshire), Ryan Redman (Medway and Kent).