10th April 2009, 18:23
2009 Under 16 Wales 16 England 18
The Welsh youngsters just came up short in this tough battle
The Welsh youngsters just came up short in this tough battle at Glan yr Afon Park Blackwood. A bumper holiday crowd of over 850 witnessed a tight opening quarter on a heavy surface.
This fixture has been played for five consecutive years and on each occasion England have come out on top. The skills gap between the two teams has steadily decreased; this being the closest ever with the winner in doubt right up until the last minute.
The home side started well and a couple of handling mistakes let the visitors get a foothold in the game and it was England who got the only try of the first half when captain John Bateman crashed over ,Stephen Ward added the conversion.
Whereas the game had been an arm wrestle up to now, the second half burst into life. Wales prompted by scrum half Olly Olds got into the game and he got a penalty to open the Welsh boys account. Unfortunately they didn't keep their concentration and poor defence allowed prop Liam McEvoy to touchdown, Ward converted again to make it 2-12.
Just as England looked to press home the advantage, centre Rhys Evans produced an excellent length of the field break to score underneath the posts, Olds converted and Wales was back in it. Even more so when Ben Jones added another try to tie the scores.
England showed their durability though when Lewis Whitty got another try for the front row union, Ward again converted. Time was ticking away but there was still time for winger Dom Franchi to score a corner try, the conversion was difficult and Olds just came up short.
Wales threw everything at the visitors and in the final play of the game tried to expoit the the space on the wing but a last ditch tackle saw time run out as the whistle blew with England just about deserving the victory.
Wales head Coach Anthony Loxton said after the game "I'm so proud of the lads. It was a fantastic performance and they did absolutely everything that I asked of them."
article by Tony Evans
10 April 2009