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England U16 sides impress on final day of the BMW Wellington International Festival

The final day of the BMW Wellington International Festival proved to be the most successful of the lot for England’s various U16 sides.

England U16 beat Scotland U16 in the final game of the day, following on from an excellent victory for the England Saxons (2nd XV) over Italy U17 Academy, and a brilliant game between the England Roses U16s (3rd XV) and the England Lions U16s (4th XV), which the Roses won 19-14.

Given the quality of rugby on show all week there could be no doubting that the Roses v Lions game at 10 o’clock this morning would be an excellent game, and so it proved.

A yellow card from Roses number eight Zach Poole of De Aston School naturally allowed the Lions more time and space, which they used to send Hampton School centre Roman Malin-Hiscock across the line to score.

That Malin-Hiscock was in the Lions side following his performances for the senior Hampton 1st XV this season showed just how strong and deep a squad of players England have available at U16 level this year.

The Roses leveled things up just before half time though through Calday Grange’s Jack Beevers to leave the score at 7-7 at the break, and it was the Roses who soon seized the initiative in the second half as a tap penalty and typical scrum half’s sniping run from Denstone College scrum half, Ben White, saw him cross the whitewash and put his side into the lead.

Mike Marsden of John Hampden stole one back for the Lions against the run of play though, however when Bedford’s Jake Carter went over for the Roses that effectively wrapped the game up, giving the Roses a 19-14 victory and justifying the selectors decisions.

It was not long after the final whistle before the England Saxons (2nd XV) were called into action. They faced the very tricky task of playing boys a year older than them, in the form of Italy U17 Academy.

The Italians were a tough and physical bunch, what Italian side is not, giving the England players a physical challenge that they will rarely have faced before. They weathered it well though, making it to half time with the scores tied at 3-3.

It was clear that this was going to be a low scoring battle of wills but both sides were ready to accept that, and it was England who drew first blood in the second half, crafting a neat try for The Chase School’s Harry Robinson.

Whitgift’s Sam Morley’s conversion of the score was to prove crucial as not long after Italy managed to barge their way over the line. However with their conversion being missed, Morley’s s conversion meant that England led the game 10-8, a score they held on to – securing a brilliant victory.

That was all but the appetiser though, the main event of today was always going to be about the England U16 v Scotland U16 fixture.

Scotland had been in good form all week, drawing with Wales Celts on Sunday and putting in a quite outstanding performance against England’s North U16s on Wednesday to win that game, which had surely filled them with confidence for this one.

Scotland began like a side full of confidence and swagger as they flew out to an 8-0 lead through a penalty from Gregor Haldane, man of the match on Wednesday, and a lovely try from wing Ross McCann from delightful Scottish passing.

England were on the rocks, however the quality in the side was always likely to tell. So it proved a few moments later when Castle School’s Oliver Graham went surging over to bring the score down to 8-5.

The resurgence quickly continued as Harrow, London Wasps, London & South East star, and one time Fifteen Rugby One to Watch, Callum Sirker went absolutely flying through to give England a 10-8 half time lead.

At this stage the game was still highly in the balance, however a try from Trinity School wing Gabriel Ibitoye stretched England’s advantage out to 17-8.

It was at this point though that the true turning point of the game arrived. Scotland fly-half Gregor Haldane received a yellow card, and England took advantage of the extra man with a ruthless brilliance that belied their tender years.

First Ibitoye grabbed his second try before his captain, Tonbridge School number eight Ben Earl, scored an absolute wonder try, proving exactly why he has been one of the most talked about players of the Festival.

He absolutely pulverized several would be tackles before showing the turn of pace that had made him such a star of the school sevens season to steam away from inside his own half to score.

A third try in quick succession soon followed, and this time it was Sirker who again showed his pace to grab his brace, stretching the England score out to 32-8.

The feeling was that the game could run away from Scotland, however back to their full complement of players they began to create some momentum of their own as tries from Sam Yawayawa and a second for McCann brought them to just 22-32 behind.

Time however was against the Scots and their comeback was eventually to be cut short by the referee’s whistle, leaving England the deserved 32-22 victors on the day. It was a quite excellent finish to what had been a brilliant week of U16s rugby at the BMW Wellington International Festival.

BMW Wellington International Festival Results:

England U16 32-22 Scotland U16

England Saxons 10-8 Italy Academy Selection U17

England Roses 19-14 England Lions

BMW Wellington International Festival Line Ups:

England U16:

1. George Cave (Bedford)  2. Matt Kouris (Wavell)  3. Joe Morris (King Edward VI, Aston)  4. Ben Kelland (Royal Hospital School)  5. Nick Isiekwie (Nicholas Breakspear)  6. Jack Nay (The Hayesbrook)  7. Tom Curry (Bishop Heber High School)  8. Ben Earl (Tonbridge, captain)  9. Charlie Gowling (Sedbergh)  10. Ali Crossdale (Altrincham Grammar School)  11 .Gabriel Ibitoye (Trinity)  12. Suva Ma’asi (Wootton)  13. Matt Williams (Wellington College)  14. Callum Sirker (Harrow)  15. Oliver Graham (Castle School).

Replacements: 16. Henry Walker (Bromsgrove)  17. Will Vaughn (Heathfield)  18. Marcus Street (Queen Elizabeth’s Community College)  19. Kalius Hutchinson (Coundon Court)  20. Zac Xiourouppa (Ellesmere College)  21. Josh Nott (RGS Worcester)  22. Matt Riddington (Oakham)  23. Reuben Bird-Tulloch (Eltham College).

Scotland U16:

15 Bruce Sorbie,  14 Ross McCann,  13 Mark New,  12 Charlie Lonergan,  11 Thomas Klein,  10 Gregor Haldane,  9 Charlie Shiel;  1 Paul Cairncross,  2 Graham Allan,  3 Calum Eastwood,  4 Hamish Bain,  5 Allan Gregory,  6 George Blackwell,  7 Ben Scoular,  8 Matthew Fagerson.

Replacements: 16 Ralph Johnston,  17 Jamie Ross,  18 Ewan Malloch,  19 Andrew Horne,  20 Kenneth Drummond,  21 Gary Munro,  22 Gregor Paxton,  23 Sam Yawayawa,  24 Aaron Tait.

England Saxons:

1. Sebastian Deans-Smith (Charlton School)  2. Gabriel Oghre (Beechen Cliff)  3. Will Dennis (Selby High)  4. James Newman (King’s School, Grantham)  5. Max Davies (Sedbergh)  6. Ben Curry (Bishop Heber High School)  7. Jack Ingall (Wellington College)  8. Ben Fowles (Solihull)  9. Zack Santos (Hampton)  10. James Grayson (Northampton School for Boys)  11. Harry Robinson (The Chase)  12. Harry Dunne (Crossley Heath)  13. Jack Longhurst (Fitzwimarc)  14. Adam Shaw (Princethorpe College)  15. Will Kaye (Hautlieu).

Replacements: 16. George Armstrong (Woodhouse Grove)  17. Harrison King (Fitzwimarc)  18. Jake Charters (Oakham)  19. Lars Heidrich (St Paul’s)  20. Isaac Curtis-Harris (Fort Hill)  21. Josh Bayliss (Millfield)  22. Jack West (King’s College, Taunton)  23. Sam Morley (Whitgift)  24. Jordan Olowofewa (Lincoln Minster)  25. Mason Tonks (Dene Magna).

England Roses:

1. Dan Wheatley (Steyning Grammar School)  2. Jamie Blaimire (Stainburn)  3. Adam Mohammed (Gosforth Academy)  4. Toby Hutchinson (Longfield Academy)  5. Elliot Ward (QEGS Wakefield)  6. Jake Carter (Bedford)  7. Lewis Wilson (Woldgate College)  8. Zach Poole (De Aston)  9. Ben White (Denstone College)  10. Jake Duffield (Langley School)  11. Dan Beachus (Cheltenham College)  12. Jack Beevers (Calday Grange Grammar School)  13. Tosin Segun (Stowe)  14. Toni Kuku (Stowe)  15. Charlton Kerr (Stowe).

Replacements: 16. Jake Anderson (St Edward’s, Oxford)   17. Sam Miller (Wallingford School)  18. Liam Hilliar (Exmouth CC)  19. Ross Barnes (Pittville)  20. Declan Matthews (Penair)  21. George Clair (St Peter’s, Gloucester)  22. Armani Roberts (Bishop Heber High School)  23. Aaron Chapman (King’s College, Taunton).

England Lions: 

1. George Williams (Fallibroome Academy)  2. David Hickey (Bedford)  3. Ehren Painter (Felsted)  4. Jack Holford (Abingdon)  5. Will Bowie (Guiseley School)  6. Charlie Morgan (Solihull)  7. Will Glover (Harrow)  8. Matt Peakman (King’s Macclesfield)  9. Freddie Hatton (Roding Valley High School)  10. Jacob Umaga (Kenilworth School)  11. Connor Stewart (Whitley Bay High School)  12. Roman Malin-Hiscock (Hampton)  13. Will Butler (Hereford Cathedral School)  14. Mike Marsden (John Hampden Grammar School)  15. Ben Stevenson (Yarm).

Replacements: 16. Seb Brownhill (Richard Hale)  17. Ben Gregory (Deanery High School)  18. Tom Simmons (Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School)  19. Matt Solway (St Gregory’s College)  20. Zak Smith (Prior Park)  21. Matt Watson (RGS Colchester)  22. Scott Griffin (RGS Colchester)  23. Matt Marsh (Stowe)  24. Jacob Atkins (Forest School).

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