5th June 2017, 11:24 | university
The second clash in as many weeks between UK Armed Forces and England Universities proved to be an excellent rematch as the Student side took the spoils, winning 35-20, in front of an enthusiastic Headingley crowd.
Determined to overturn their 10-22 defeat a fortnight ago, England's display was far more confident but they were given a thorough test by their Forces counterparts, with both teams looking in excellent form for their upcoming World Cups next month.
It was Forces flying winger Simon Wray who opened the scoring, finishing a passing move from Adam Flintham and Dave Hankinson to beat the corner flag on the right hand side, but Ryan Matthews was unable to secure the touchline conversion.
Captialising on field position from a penalty, full back Jacob Morgan dummied out of acting half-back to touch down to the far right of the England flank.
Ben Stead was successful with the left boot to move the students ahead. Five minutes later, it was Zack McComb who spun through a gap after taking a Kieran Smith short pass to move England further ahead, although Stead pushed the conversion wide this time.
The Headingley crowd were treated to some robust exhanges, with Forces forwards Jordan Andrade, Ben Taylor and Ben Mellor and Universities trio of Josh Halstead, Aaron Hall and Matt Ross treating the crowd to some big hits and powering runs.
Wray's 37th minute carbon copy try of his opener, coupled with Matthews' successful conversion from the touchline brought the scores level, but with second on the clock tempers boiled over as Ben Taylor and James Mason were dispatched to the sin bin.
With England awarded the penalty, Stead added the two points on the hooter from the halfway line to move the students ahead at the break.
England started the second half strongly, with Jason Bass making solid metres on the left hand side to put Dan Harrison away in the corner.
Winger Elliot Hall runs in for a try
England have one friendly game left ahead of the World Cup
Sam Druce, now on kicking duties, missed the conversion.
Lewis Taylor continued the scoring shortly afterwards, finding a gap from a perfect short pass from his Loughborough team mate Lewis Lord, crashing down under the sticks and setting up an easy kick for Druce.
The students temporarily clocked off and, with some ill discipline and defending a back to back set, allowed Flintham to combine with Andrade to see the prop power through Morgan and Charlie Greene to score to the left of the sticks, Matthews adding the easy extras.
Five minutes later, Elliot Hall scored what was the try of the evening, as Bass broke free on England's 20-metre line, slipping the ball away to Hall on the halfway line, the winger pinned his ears back to beat the defence in the sprint to the line.
Druce slotted the easy conversion and, minutes later, added a drop goal to his name as England put their training park plays into action.
Wray capped an excellent night, completing his hatrick, having diving onto an inch perfect grubber from Flintham although Matthews was unable to add the extras.
But it was Elliot Hall who rounded off the scoring in the dying seconds of the game, finding space to take Morgan's wide pass and giving Druce a final positive shot on goal.
UK Armed Forces: Scott Stevenson, Simon Wray, Dave Hankinson, James Hutchinson, Mike Haldenby, Ryan Matthews, Adam Flintham, Jordan Andrade, Kev Brown, George Clarke, Ben Taylor, Jamie Birdsall, Ben Mellor. Subs: Luke Cooper, Lee Queeley, Chris Gordon, James Parry, Sam Breeze, Gary Dunn, Micky Hoyle, Ben Cartmell.
Tries: Wray (6, 37, 74), Andrade (59)
Goals: Matthews 2/4
England Universities: Jacob Morgan, Nathan Hill, Brad Kislingbury, Zack McComb, Jason Bass, Kieran Smith, Ben Stead, Matt Ross, Jake Reed, Josh Halstead, Dom Bryan, Marcus Stock, Jack Lazenby. Subs: Harry Kidd, Lewis Taylor, Aaron Hall, Sam Druce, Charlie Greene, Dan Harrison, James Mason, Liam Wood, Lewis Lord, Elliot Hall.
Tries: Morgan (10), McComb (15), Harrison (42), Taylor (55), E Hall (64, 79)
Goals: Stead 1/3, Druce 3/4
Drop Goal: Druce 1 (65)