6th August 2011, 13:46
2011 Wales Dragonhearts 30 England Lionhearts 24
Wales defeat England to complete an excellent Grand Slam!
A hat-trick of tries from Dragonhearts debutant Nathan Trowbridge helped Wales to a 30-24 victory over England and helped seal the Rugby League Home Nations Trophy and Grand Slam.
England had chances to score early on but some excellent tackling, especially from Richard Murphy and Robbie Ford kept the Lionhearts out and in the sixth minute great passing amongst the backs got the ball to Trowbridge and the wing raced over for an excellent try.
He then came close to scoring a second but was stopped just short but Kristian Hawkes made no mistake diving over under the posts and Gareth Howells converted for a 10-0 lead.
The English hit back in the 20th minute when Richard Wareing crossed for a deserved score, Wareing also converting to lower the gap to four.
A great break from Howells almost saw birthday boy Gareth David score but he was help up over the line then after a good England attack Ford saved the day leaping high to claim the ball after a fine cross field kick.
The Welshmen then attacked and from midfield Howells put in a great kick ahead which fell perfectly for Trowbridge who showed great speed to beat a number of English players to the ball and claim his second of the game, and just before the break things got better for the men I red when centre Lloyd Ryland scored a great solo try sidestepping his way to the line for Wales fourth, Howells converting for a 20-6 half time lead.
The Dragonhearts had hoped to seal victory with an early score as they had done against Scotland three weeks earlier, but it was the Lionhearts who started the stronger in the second half. England battered away at the Wales line early on but good defence kept them out, however pressure finally told and hard running forward Russell Morris crashed over under the posts and Wareing converted to make it 20-12.
Wales almost hit back straight away, Rhys Meredith was denied a score after the ball was judged to have done forward then player-coach Craig Fox had a score disallowed for obstruction, and then the visitors made
Wales pay claiming a third score through Josh Malicot with Wareing adding the extras from the touchline to cut the gap to just two points.
The next score would be crucial and it was scored by Trowbridge who went on an wonderful run racing through a gap in the English defence before rounding the fullback for a superb solo hat-trick try, Howells converting to put the home side two scores clear.
But with just under 15 minutes left it seemed the Dragonhearts dream of a Grand Slam would have to wait after forward Andy Milne was sin-binned and moments later Rob Massam scored and Wareing converted to make it 26-24.
The English then battered away at the Wales line and won a string of penalties but Wales defended heroically with Ryland especially putting in many big hits.
Finally the Dragonhearts broke away and excellent play fro Nathan Hawkins and Dale Tucker sent Craig Fox over for Wales sixth, but Howells missed the crucial conversion that would have put them two scores clear, but they held on and withstood a late Lionhearts flurry to claim victory in an excellent game of Rugby League.
For Wales Trowbridge had a dream start to his Dragonhearts career while centre pairing Ryland and Howells were excellent in defence and young loose forward Dale Tucker carried the ball excellently.
For England Russell Morris stood out while Wareing kicked well throughout.
After the game England coach Rob Steele said "for anyone watching today who doesn't know much about Rugby League I'm sure they were won over as it was a great game, but naturally we are very disappointed with the result and as with the Irish match three weeks ago it was a match we could and maybe should have won. But well done Wales, they played great Rugby and are worthy champions".
Meanwhile Wales player-coach Craig Fox said "I am absolutely delighted and this is the proudest moment in my career, the lads have shown great commitment all summer and I've thoroughly enjoyed working with them. Its been a few years since we last went unbeaten in this tournament so to get the Grand Slam is a brilliant achievement and deserved reward for all the hard work the lads have put in over the past few weeks".
WALES DRAGONHEARTS SCORERS:
Nathan Trowbridge (3)
Gareth Howells (3)
ENGLAND LIONHEARTS SCORERS: