8th December 2018, 17:19 | englandrl
Harry Smith scored ten of England's 14 points in a Man of the Match performance as Dave Elliot's men secured a 14-8 win over the Australian Schoolboys at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday.
Leeds Rhinos centre Harry Newman opened the scoring with an effort from the ruck, Smith converting, before the Wigan halfback got over himself - chasing his own kick to touch down after an Australian error.
England led 12-0 at half time and Smith added a penalty soon after the restart to make it 14-0.
Though Australia struck back with unconverted tries from Stephen Crichton and Timanu Alexander, England held on to make it '1-0' ahead of Friday's second test at Emerald Headingley.
Smith's kicking game set the tone early on as England earned some crucial territory which ended with Newman forcing his way over after a spell of pressure.
Smith converted from wide out and England led 6-0 after 11 minutes.
Australia enjoyed their own dominant spells as the half wore on, but England stood firm and were rewarded for their work as Smith dived on a loose ball after Tesi Niu spilled a towering Smith bomb.
He made it two from two with the boot and 12-0 is how it stayed at half time.
Half-Time: England Academy 12-0 Australian Schoolboys
Smith was again at the forefront in the early stages of the second half, kicking England into a 14-0 lead with a 47th-minute penalty.
Now chasing a three-score lead, Australia stepped up and found themselves over the line on the hour mark; some slick handling ended with Crichton producing an acrobatic finish - but Jock Madden couldn't convert.
At 14-4, the visitors sensed an opportunity and relentless pressure followed - errors crept into England's game and only a sterling defensive effort kept the Schoolboys at bay.
🗣️ England Academy Head Coach Dave Elliott:— England Rugby League (@England_RL) December 9, 2018
🏉 "This group is very special, and it's a young squad with nine 17 year olds in it.
👊 "It bodes well for the future." pic.twitter.com/YPSZ7lHlm2
That was until 74 minutes when forward Alexander dived over to set up a tense finale - but England held out.
Speaking after the game, England Academy Head Coach Dave Elliott said: "We dropped off in the final 20 minutes or so but we managed to hang on so I'm really pleased.
"Harry Smith stood out in the first half and controlled our sets, but I think Harry Newman and Morgan Smithies were right up there as well - I thought they were both outstanding.
"Next week will be tough - Australia's outside backs caused us some damage - but we're all looking forward to it - hopefully we can make it 2-0."
Full-Time: England Academy 14-8 Australian Schoolboys