Wales U16 held off an England U16 fightback to beat the visitors 23-22 at the Caerphilly Centre for Sporting Excellence yesterday.
Wales led 20-15 at half time, but England mounted a real assault on their line in the second half. However some outstanding defensive play from Wales, allied to a Luke Scully penalty gave them a 23-22 win.
England took the lead early on in the game through a penalty from Wimbledon College’s Coalan Englefield, but Scully soon levelled the game for Wales.
Old Swinford Hospital centre, Oliver Lawrence, quickly put England back in front though with a sumptuous score, with Englefield converting for a 10-3 lead for the visitors. Wales were once again quickly on the scoresheet though, with Scully landing his second penalty.
England were playing delightful rugby in this opening period though, and it quickly paid off again with a try for Egglescliffe winger Morgan Passman, who finished off a move that was full of wonderful handing.
Perhaps the effect of conceding three reasonably early tries sparked something in Wales, as following that try they stepped their performance up a level, soon scoring from captain and Ysgol y Preseli openside, Gethin Davies, who gathered a Scully chip for a lovely try, which Scully then converted.
Scully went from provider to scorer shortly after, creating his own try and then converting it to give his Welsh side a 20-15 half time lead.
After 11 minutes of play in the second half, that five point lead became eight as Scully landed his third penalty of the day, with England’s Ellesmere College loosehead Tom Furnival in the bin. From there on though, the game became a dogfight for Wales, who showed some outstanding defence.
England piled on the pressure, and it soon paid off with a second score for Lawrence, which Kirkham Grammar School’s Kieran Wilkinson converted to bring the game to within a point.
England spent much of the rest of the game camped inside the Welsh end of the field but, try as they might, they could not breach the red wall for that all important winning score.
Speaking after the game, Wales U16 Head Coach Robert Sidoli said:
“Defensively I thought we showed steely character, and although we made some mistakes in the first half, we pulled ourselves up and kept going, which I’m really pleased with. The boys had a license to play, which was evident in the first half with a quick tap penalty that produced a try.”
“We had the bounce of the ball on a superb surface, and the crowd really gave the boys a boost, but what I was most impressed with was the determination and character the boys showed in defence when things got tight in the second half. Each one of them made their one on one tackles and got up for more each time.”
“Their attitude was outstanding and the experience they’ve gained over the last few weeks, first with the regional competition, then juggling school and travel to come in to train with Wales, and bring it all together on an occasion like this will stand them in good stead going forward. It’s a win to be proud of and a memory they will keep for the rest of their lives.”
England U16 Coach Steve Shorthand meanwhile said:
“I thought it was a great game, we had two young teams trying to play and keep the ball alive. Full credit to both teams for trying to play open, expansive rugby. The group only came together on Friday and they’ve worked incredibly hard all weekend to connect with each other and produce a way they want to play which I thought served them well. I’m very proud of the way they behaved and adapted to the challenge in front of them.”
“We kept playing and trying to be expansive and we were very, very unlucky. We had many try-scoring opportunities and on another day it might have been our game.”
Full Time: Wales Schools U16 23-33 England U16
Tries: G Davies, Scully
Cons: Scully (2)
Pens: Scully (3)
Tries: Lawrence (2), Passman
Cons: Englefield, Wilkinson
Wales Schools U16 XV:
15 Harri Dole (Ysgol Dinefwr)
14 Rio Dyer (Bassaleg High School)
13 Ben Cambriani (Bishopston)
12 Tiaan Wheeler (Llangatwg)
11 Ioan Davies (Rhydywaun)
10 Luke Scully (Llangatwg)
9 Dan Babos (Croesyceiliog)
1 Nathan Evans (Oakdale)
2 Will Griffiths (West Mon)
3 Adam Thomas (Strade)
4 Cian Lewis-Hughes (Cymer)
5 Iestyn Rees (Bro Dinefwr)
6 Ioan Rhys Davies (Glantaf)
7 Gethin Davies (captain, Y Preseli)
8 Taine Basham (Abersychan)
Replacements: 16 Dom Booth (Greenhill) 17 Tyler Pugsley (Strade) 18 Ben Warren (Treorchy) 19 Rob Brookson (West Mon) 20 Callum James (Brecon High School) 21 Sam Cambriani (Gowerton) 22 Llew Smith (Llandovery College) 23 Rhys Davies (Cyfarthfa).
England U16 XV:
15 Will Simonds (Wasps & Royal Latin)
14 Jon Searle (Harlequins & Brighton College)
13 Harry Barlow (Harlequins & Cranleigh)
12 Oliver Lawrence (Worcester Warriors & Old Swinford Hospital)
11 Morgan Passman (Newcastle Falcons & Egglescliffe)
10 Ollie Bluck (Saracens & New Hall)
9 Caolan Englefield (Harlequins & Wimbledon College)
1 Tom Furnival (Worcester Warriors & Ellesmere College)
2 Jack Musk (Harlequins & St John’s, Leatherhead)
3 Will Capon (Bristol & Bristol Grammar School)
4 Max Ayling (London Irish & Thames Mead)
5 Alex Coles (Northampton Saints & The Perse)
6 Jack Glover (Harlequins & Harrow)
7 Luke James (Harlequins & Cavendish)
8 Sam Dugdale (Sale Sharks & Kirkham Grammar School)
16 Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks & Sedbergh)
17 Samson Ma’asi (Northampton Saints & Wooton Upper)
18 Reece Amir (Newcastle Falcons & Durham)
19 Tom Fawcett (Worcester Warriors & Warwick)
20 Dan Cuthbert (Harlequins & City of London Freemen’s)
21 Tom Walsh (Sale Sharks & St Ambrose College)
22 Kieran Wilkinson (Sale Sharks (Kirkham Grammar School)
23 Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks & St Ambrose College)