venue: Grattan Stadium, Bradford
22nd April 2011
Full Match Report
U16 TEST MATCH
The England Youth side fell to an agonizing 19-18 defeat against their French counterparts when the sides met in the first of a two test series at Bradford’s Grattan Stadium today. After seeing England open up a 12-point lead within the first 15 minutes of the game, the 500 strong crowd at Odsal were forced to watch the French side complete a spirited comeback when Pia scrum-half Theo Fages landed a last-gasp drop-goal to seal victory for his side.
“After the English equalised ten minutes before the end,” said France team manager Emmanuel Fauvel, “it became a trial of strength which our ‘Bleuets’ won, thanks to Théo Fages’ drop goal. I have to mention the quality of our defence, as well as our temperament and enormous heart which we needed to overcome the physically larger English.”
England started brightly with scores from winger Aaron Lewezenko and scrum-half George Williams opening up an early 12-0 with Bradford’s Curtis Naughton adding the extras with the boot. However, France were quick to reduce the deficit and two quick fire unconverted tries from full-back Emine Bouzada and stand-off Arthur Gonzalez-Trique bought the game back to 12-8 at half-time.
The second half began as the first had ended and the French side wasted no time in levelling the match when a perfectly weighted cross-field kick was gathered majestically by winger Jalentin Chanet in the 38th minute. Chanet crossed for his second five minutes later to give France an 18-12 lead. Ryan Hampshire levelled the game for England after he wriggled his way through two defenders to earn a vital four points with 10 minutes remaining. England came close to scoring through centre Liam Galbraith and winger Parry in the closing stages but neither could grasp the opportunity and the deciding blow was dealt in the dying seconds as scrum-half Fages slotted an excellently struck 30 meter drop-goal to condemn England to the narrowest of defeats.
“There are loads of positives to take out of this game,” said England Youth head coach Dave Elliott. “I think the fact that these lads have had experience of international rugby at such a young age is great because it lets them know what they can and can’t do at international level and that’s all part of the development of the players. We got beat, but it’s more about the long term development of these players than short term success.
“We were really strong in periods and it was just the little errors at this level that punished us. There are things players can get away with at amateur level but at this level of competition those same mistakes can be costly and that’s a great learning experience for the players. France hung in there and put in some great pressure and they took their chances and took the drop-goal but that’s Rugby and the boys will learn a lot from that. Now it’s about looking ahead to the second Test and I’m really excited about Tuesday. There is a lot of talent in this squad and we’ll dust ourselves down and look to go out there and put in another good performance.”
Curtis Naughton, Arron Lewczenko, Josh Casey, Lewis Galbraith, Ben Parry, Ryan Hampshire, George Williams, Michael Learmonth, Ryan Maneely, Greg Richards, Jordan Baldwinson, Alex Mellor, William Milner. Subs: Scott Lee, Andre Savelio, Liam Sutcliffe, Bradley Day
Bouzada Emine, Marcon Paul, Gaillard Sylvain, Villalba Paul, Chanet Valentin, Gonzalez-Trique Arthur, Fages Théo, Boyer Clément, Bousquet Florian, Banquet Loïc, Bouzinac Charles (c), Nies Charles, Madani Karim. Subs: Maury Quentin, Meresta Doucet Alexis, Taurin Loic, Cadore Mathieu, Domergues Hadrien