26th November 2006, 19:33
2006 Wales U19s 14 Australia Schoolboys 68
Blackwood RFC's first ever staging of a rugby league international
Blackwood RFC's first ever staging of a rugby league international was a great success for the dual-code club with an estimated 600 fans packed into the Gwent-valleys ground. The crowd, predominantly Welsh, may not have seen their team win but were impressed by the quality of the match as the Australian Schoolboys enjoyed a successful start to their seven-match European tour.
Among the crowd were St. Helens chairman Eammon McMannus, former Great Britain star Andy Gregory as well as guest of honour, Councillor Elizabeth Aldworth, the mayor of the Caerphilly County Borough Council who was very impressed with the whole day.
"I thought it was a very exciting match and I feel rugby league has a place in the Welsh valleys," she said. "It's very popular on the TV, it's a growing sport and it's going to get even bigger. Blackwood have done exceptionally well in hosting the match and seem to have put a lot of thought into it. It's been an absolutely great day."
The Australians stamped their dominance on the game from the outset as they scored from their first touch of the ball after Wales had completed a good first set. The final tackle kick was caught well by Shannon Walker on his own 30-metre line who broke his way through the Welsh pack to set up Obadiah Geia who outran the defence to ground in the corner.
They added to their lead straight from kick-off when Nathan Strudwick fed Joseph Paulo who ran home with Chris Lawrence converting to make the score 10-0.
It was soon 14-0 to the visitors with Geia the provider this time with Israel Folau scoring.
Wales kept their dominant visitors out for a further six minutes before substitute Will Mataka forced his way through to score under the sticks. Lawrence converted his second of the afternoon.
Geia and Folau struck again on 18 minutes with the wingman once again creating a chance for the centre with a pass that looked a tad forward but referee Paul Carr allowed it to stand.
Wales thought they'd scored on 25 minutes as Sam Studley fed Adam Richards who wrestled his way over the line but the Australian defence did well to hold him up and prevented him grounding the ball.
The Welsh pressure finally paid off after they regained the ball from the kick under the sticks when Aberavon's Jason Keneally waltzed passed the Australian backline to score.
But Australia hit back just two minutes later when Will Matthews scored under the sticks. Chris Sandow converted and scored a try of his own just on the hooter after pouncing on his chip to score under the sticks, converting again to put the half-time score on 4-36.
It took less than two minutes for Australia to add to their mammoth first half score as they ran in two quick tries. The destructive Folau-Geia pairing were responsible for the two almost identical scores as Geia grabbed a quick brace, both grounded in the corner. Sandow kicked the tricky conversion for the first of the two but hit the post second time around.
Substitute Joel Thompson could have had a tenth score for the rampant visitors from the restart but was denied by a try saving tackle from Kevin James, causing him to drop the ball.
But Australia weren't to be denied and Folau ran through for his hat-trick on 52 minutes with Paulo adding his second from kick-off. Sandow converted both.
Wales didn't give up. They could have had a try back on the hour if Owen Lewis' kick to Keneally wasn't quite as strong but the winger couldn't quite reach the ball to catch it. However, they broke through a minute later when local lad Nicky Tucker ran the ball home.
Geia restored the balance again running in for his fourth try on 66 minutes with Shannon Walker following suit two minutes later but it was Wales who had the final say in the match with Lee Williams setting up Tucker in the corner for his second and Williams converting.
Wales team manager Ross Olney was pleased at the effort that his young side put in and feels that they have a lot of promise for the future.
Olney said: "I think they did very well considering they were up against a top side. We showed what we could do in spells, now we have to do it for the full 80 minutes. Half of the squad are under 18 so they've gained a lot of experience today that they can take into the Home Nations next year."
Australia's coach Simon Huntley was impressed with his side making such a positive winning start to the tour.
"I was pretty happy with our discipline and we did a lot of things that we were training to do," he said. "There are some areas that we have to tidy up on but it was a good first game and the boys adapted very well to the wet conditions underfoot."
Australia will now face the BARLA schools side on Wednesday before playing the Great Britain under 18s next Sunday where they may come up against Lewis and Studley and Lee Williams again as the Welsh trio have all being selected for the young Lions.
1. Kevin James (Valley Cougars)
2. Jason Keneally (Fighting Irish)
3. Chris Vitalini (Titans/Crusaders)
4. Lee Williams (Fighting Irish/Crusaders)
5. Adam Richards (unattached)
6. Owen Lewis (Valley Cougars)
7. John Griffiths (Sharks)
8. Gareth Moore(Fighting Irish/Crusaders)
9. Tom Burnell (Demons)
10. Chris Holcombe (unattached)
11. Nicky Tucker (Bulldogs)
12. Geraint Evans (unattached)
13. Chris Watts (unattached)
Subs (all used)
14. Dan Griffiths (Sharks)
15. Liam Williams (Demons)
16. Sam Studley (Valley Cougars)
17. Lewis Fox (unattached)
Tries: Keneally (29), Tucker (51, 73)
Goals: Lewis 1/3
1. Shannon Walker (Palm Beach Currumbin State High)
2. Cameron White (Oxley High School)
3. Chris Lawrence (St Gregorys Campbelltown)
4. Israel Folau (Marsden State High School)
5. Obadiah Geia (Kirwan State High School)
6. Luke Capewell (Redcliffe State High School)
7. Mitchell Pearce (Marist College North Shore)
8. Will Matthews (Palm Beach Currumbin State High)
9. Nathan Strudwick (John Paul College)
10. Aiden Tolman (St Paul's Kempsey)
11. Luke Muttden (Kiama High School)
12. Kevin Proctor (Palm Beach Currumbin State High)
13. Joseph Paulo (Patrician Brothers, Blacktown)
Subs (all used)
14. Chris Sandow (Marsden State High School)
15. Joel Thompson (Red Bend Catholic College, Forbes)
16. Sam Aston (Brisbane State High School)
17. Will Mataka (St Gregorys, Campbelltown)
Tries: Geia (1, 41, 44, 66), Paulo (4, 54), Folau (7, 18, 52), Mataka (13),
Matthews (31), Sandow (40), Walker (68)
Goals: Lawrence 2/5, Sandow 6/8
Referee: Paul Carr (England)
Scoring Sequence: 0-4, 0-10, 0-14, 0-20, 0-24, 4-24, 4-30, 4-36, 4-42, 4-46, 4-52, 4-58, 8-58, 8-62, 8-68, 14-68
Men of the Match:
Wales - Nicky Tucker
Australia - Israel Folau
Penalty Count: 2-9
Gamestar: Israel Folau who scored three tries, had a hand in another three and dominated the centre of the park from the start to finish.
Gamebreaker: Folau's first try in the seventh minute. From then on, everyone knew that the Australian's would dominate the match and there would be no looking back.
article by Ian Golden
26 November 2006