12th September 2004, 17:24
2004 Wales A 32 England A 34
Wales secured the Parkhouse Recruitment Rugby League Conference
Wales secured the Parkhouse Recruitment Rugby League Conference Home Nations championship for the third year in a row after narrowly beating England 34-32 at Coventry on Sunday.
Wales, despite the setback of Liam Gadd, Dai Hawkins and Darren Ryan being withdrawn by Aberavon RUFC the day before, took less than two minutes to get on the board. Nathan Strong laying the ball off to Damien Hudd who took three players with him when touching down.
Mark Burke increased the lead after 11 minutes, darting past three defenders to place the ball under the sticks. Mark Wheeler mirrored this with a try seven minutes later while Simon Bevan marked his comeback after a long-term injury with a touchdown in the corner straight from kick-off to put the Dragons 22-0 up.
It was 28-0 on 28 minutes after Craig Jones' 50-metre run was halted by Rob Brown, only for Dean Scully to force his way over from the play-the-ball.
England were roused into action on the half-hour, scoring three quick tries. Dafydd Gould opened the Lionhearts' account after opportunist play from Karl Wesley with Brendan Lewis and Olly Foster both adding well-worked tries to make the interval score 14-28.
Wales were first on the scoreboard in the second half, despite Jason Massey being in the sin-bin, after Scully beat off three defenders for his second.
There could have been three more scores in the next 20 minutes. England's Karl Wesley and Wales' Richard Martin both had tries disallowed for forward passes while Wales' Mark Wheeler crossed the line but was held up.
But England finally narrowed the gap after 66 minutes when Wesley ran 30 metres to score under the posts. Martin Fisher added another following a fine set of passes before Jon Wood scored the try of the match in the last minute, running 50-metres to ground under the posts.
But it was too little too late for England as Wales completed a "triple-crown" to take the championship once again.
England: Richard Whitehouse (Worcestershire Saints), Rob Brown (Nottingham Outlaws), Jon Wood (Gosport Vikings), Karl Wesley (Leicester Phoenix), Brendan Lewis (Hull Phoenix), Chris Storey (Rotherham Giants), Martin Fisher (Bolton-le-Moors), Olly Foster (Leeds Akademiks), Kieran Lacey (Liverpool Buccaneers), Tony Wright (Bristol Sonics), Daz White (Telford Raiders), Hui Lee (North London Skolars), Lee Craig (Hull Phoenix). Subs (all used): Paul Campbell (Hull Phoenix), Dafydd Gould (Oxford Cavaliers), Scott Eccles (Bridlington Bulls), Peter Le Marquand (Ipswich Rhinos).
Tries: Gould (30), Lewis (36), Foster (40), Wesley (66), Fisher (76), Wood (80)
Goals: Storey 4/6
Wales: Simon Bevan (Swansea Valley Miners), Richard Johnston (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Dean Scully (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Mark Wheeler (Newport Titans), Craig Jones (Torfaen Tigers), Richard Jenkins (Torfaen Tigers), Peter Moore (Cardiff Demons), Leigh Taylor (Torfaen Tigers), Mark Burke (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Richard Martin (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Nathan Strong (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Damien Hudd (Torfaen Tigers), Neil Davies (Aberavon Fighting Irish). Subs: Richard Lewis (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Mark Dando (Cardiff Demons), Paul Morgan (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Jason Massey (Aberavon Fighting Irish).
Tries: Hudd (2), Burke (11), Wheeler (18), Bevan (20), Scully (28, 46)
Goals: Scully 5/6
Gamebreaker: The first 28 minutes when Wales scored five unanswered tries which proved too much of a barrier for England.
Gamestar: 18-year old Mark Burke who scored a great try to cap his flawless performance in the front row,
Men of the Match:
England: Jon Wood,
Wales: Mark Burke
Referee: David Merrick (Pontefract)
Scoring sequence: 0-6, 0-12, 0-18, 0-22, 0-28, 4-28, 8-28, 14-28, 14-34, 20-34, 26-34, 32-34
Article by Ian Golden
13 Sep 2004