England Youth mastered the wet and miserable conditions at Wakefield’s Belle Vue Stadium to triumph 16-6 in their Good Friday junior international against France Under-16.
The first of a two-match series could not have gone much better for Shane Eccles’s side, who dominated the game in almost every respect.
Throughout the first period England were encamped underneath the French sticks; were it not for the stubborn try-line defending of the visitors, England could quite easily have scored more than their single first-half try.
England were at times neat with the ball in hand – despite the unrelenting rain, which cost two early tries through knock-ons. It took just 15 minutes for the home side to open the scoring, as Leeds Rhinos loose forward Cameron Smith went over under the sticks.
The only disappointment for England was that, despite their dominance, they could not shut France out. The visitors rarely came within striking distance of England’s line, managing one score through Hugo Priels, who scrambed over three minutes before the interval.
The second half was played at a quicker pace and England carried on from where they left off – a storming run from Wigan Warriors stand-off Declan O’Donnell was halted just yards from the French whitewash before Castleford Tigers hooker Jacques O’Neill powered through moments later.
Despite France now venturing up-field on a more regular basis, England never lost control of the game. James Worthington finished a sweeping left-to-right move in the corner to all but ensure the victory.
“I’m happy, we have worked really hard all week,” said coach Shane Eccles. “We expected it to be really tough and it was physical but the lads did well to carry on with a good attitude and character to come out with the win.
“We have worked this week on keeping the opposition in their own twenty and not letting them get out, and I think what we have done in training they took out onto the field. I was really impressed with that.”
England now head into the final match of this junior international series next Tuesday (April 7) at Castleford’s Mend-A-Hose Jungle (2.00pm).
England Youth (professional club and community club in brackets)
Kevin Brown (St Helens, Thatto Heath Crusaders)
Will Dagger (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Castleford Panthers)
Jacob Wardle (Huddersfield Giants, Illingworth)
James Worthington (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Judes)
Will Oakes (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Eastmoor Dragons)
Declan O’Donnell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)
Oliver Russell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Judes)
Caine Barnes (Wigan Warriors, Seaton Rangers)
Jacques O’Neill (Castleford Tigers, Askam)
Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors)
Dyson Nicholson (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors)
Chris Brown (Hull KR, West Hull)
Cameron Smith (Leeds Rhinos, Lock Lane)
Danny Walker (Widnes Vikings, Crosfields)
Jon-Luke Kirby (Huddrsfield Giants, Eastmoor Dragons)
Liam Walsh (Widnes Vikings, Halton Farnworth Hornets)
Samuel Kibula (Wigan Warriors, Leigh Miners Rangers)
Luc Franco (StEsteve XIII Catalan (Dragons U19))
Georgy Gambaro (MJCarcasonne XIII)
William Planela (St Esteve)
Cameron Chamorin (St Esteve)
Thibault Franck (XIII Catalan)
Lucas Albert (StEsteve XIII Catalan (Dragons U19))
Maxime Garcia (StEsteve XIII Catalan (Dragons U19))
Clement Meunier (XIII Catalan)
Theo Lardot (Marseille 13)
Tom Bonillo (XIII Catalan)
Leo Mathieu (Albi)
Ayoub Mezianni (SOA)
Hugo Priels (XIII Catalan)
Justin Sangare (TO XIII)
Louis Castres (FCL XIII)
Nathan Chatras (Villeneuve XIII)
England Youth 16 (T: Smith, O'Neill, Worthington; G: Russell 2)
France U16 6 (T: Priels; G: Franck)