A late James Grayson drop goal gave England U18 a dramatic victory over Wales U18 in Port Talbot on Sunday afternoon.
Grayson, the son of the former England outside half, Paul, sealed the game with the very last touch of the game, sealing a second victory in a row for England U18 this season.
It was the culmination of a superb end to the game, as Wales came from 21-14 down with seven minutes remaining, only to score two late tries, creating a scenario similar to the senior one the day before.
That put Wales 26-24 ahead, only for Grayson’s drop goal to seal the 27-26 victory for England.
Wales came into the game high on confidence after beating a France side who had previously beaten England, and rode that confidence to an 8-0 lead after nineteen minutes thanks to a James Ratti try and a Phil Jones penalty.
England were on the scoresheet after half an hour though, through the outstanding Harry Randall, the Hartpury College and Welsh qualified scrum half, with Grayson converting to bring England within a point.
They were in the lead shortly after, with Denstone College’s Levi Davies going flying over, Grayson once again knocked over the extras. Wales brought the scores level shortly after half time though through two Phil Jones penatlies, before Randall was at it again just after the fifty minute mark for his second try of the game, Jacob Umaga his time landed the conversion.
Umaga then slotted a penalty for England to move them 24-14 ahead as the game moved towards the final fifteen minutes.
Wales were not going to go away quietly though, first scoring through number 8 Morgan Morris before Will Jones scored form a fifteen man maul with three minutes remaining to send Wales two points clear.
With the clock deep into the red, England won a penalty and opted to tap and move deeper into Welsh territory, setting up the platform for Moulton College’s Grayson to land the most satisfying points of his young career to date.
Speaking after the game, Wales U18 Head Coach Geraint Lewis said:
“It wasn’t one of our better performances, but I’m happy with the attitude and heat. It’s a painful lesson for them. They left a lot of points out there and we can look forward to playing England again in the Five Nations tournament over Easter, we ran a good England very close. We are disappointed, but we will work to get better and we can be a lot better. We could have been a bit better with the ball in hand, but the players have shown a lot of courage over the last few weeks.”
“We came very close, but we just weren’t good enough. But we will look forward to playing them again in a few weeks time when we host the Five Nations tournament. It will be a different team that lines-up against Scotland at St Helen’s in a few weeks time and we will also look forward to playing Italy and England again.”
Full Time: Wales U18 26-27 England U18
BMW Man of the Match: Nick Isiekwe (Haileybury)
1 Alex Seville (Hartpury College)
2 Jamie Blamire (Gosforth Academy)
3 Ehren Painter (Felsted)
4 Josh Williams (Hartlepool 6th form College)
5 Nick Isiekwe (Haileybury)
6 Jack Nay (Berkhamsted)
7 Tom Curry (Oundle)
8 Ben Earl (Tonbridge)
9 Harry Randall (Hartpury College)
10 Tom Parton (Wellington College)
11 Joe Cokanasiga (Bush Academy)
12 Jacob Umaga (Queen Elizabeth & Wyggeston College)
13 Gabriel Ibitoye (Trinity)
14 Levi Davis (Denstone College)
15 Oli Graham (Filton College)
16 Henry Walker (Bromsgrove)
17 Devante Onojaife (Stowe)
18 Joseph Morris (KES Aston)
19 Max Davies (Sedbergh)
20 Lewis Wilson (Pocklington)
21 Ben White (Leicester GS)
22 James Grayson (Moulton College)
23 Sam Yawayawa (Queen Elizabeth & Wyggeston)
15 Will Talbot Davies (Dragons / Solihull)
14 Corey Baldwin (Scarlets/ Llandovery College)
13 Owen Lane (Blues / Cardiff/ Cowbridge)
12 Kieran Williams (Ospreys/ Glynneath/ Ystalyfera)
11 Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets/ Sir Gar)
10 Phil Jones (Ospreys/ Gowerton/ Gowerton)
9 Owain Leonard (Dragons/ Cross Keys / Gwynlliw)
1 Rhys Carre (Blues/ Cowbridge)
2 Corrie Tarent (Blues/ Pontypridd/ Cymoedd)
3 Christian Coleman (Dragons / Garndiffaith)
4 Max Williams (Dragons/ Newport High)
5 James Ratti (Ospreys/Gower)
6 Aled Ward (capt, Blues/ Cardiff Harlequins/ Cowbridge)
7 Will Jones (Ospreys/ Penclawdd/ Gower)
8 Morgan Morris (Gloucester/ Hartpury)
16 Jordan Liney (Ospreys/ Hartbury)
17 Eddie Drake (Blues / Cowbridge / Cowbridge)
18 Josh Reynolds (Dragons / NHSOB/ Newport High)
19 Will Griffiths (Ospreys/ Gowerton / Gowerton)
20 Joe Thomas (Dragons / Penallta / Gwent)
21 Efan Jones (Wrexham / Rydal Penrhos)
22 Ben Jones (Blues/ Treharris/ Cymoedd)
23 Declan Williams (Blues/ Cymoedd)