16th May 2019, 10:43 | university
England Universities came behind to pinch Featherstone Rovers Reserves' pockets in the dying minutes in a tough encounter on Wednesday night. The game gave both sides a competitive game, helping both sides get valuable game time.
It was just three minutes into the game when Featherstone winger Darren Forde found space on the left edge, diving past his oppostive number Lee Registe to open Rovers account. Jorge Richardson was unable to land the kick from the touchline.
Both sides slugged it out, with both sets of forwards working hard in the centre of the field. Nathan Taylor got England off the mark 14 minutes into the game, finishing a well worked move to go to the side of the posts, with an easy conversion to move the visitors in front. Lewis Munyoro left everyone for dust shortly afterwards with a 90 metre burst upfield for England, but was denied a try by clever defence at the line by Rovers full back.
England were caught napping just after the half hour mark, when Brandan French danced through space on the right side to restore Featherstone's advantage, Morgan Punchard unable to add the extras.
England were desperate for a try before half time, but instead made do with a penalty just before the hooter, which Taylor slotted easily to level the scores at the break.
Hooker Ben Blakestone pinned his ears back and sprinted through the England line just a couple of sets into the second half, giving Punchard a manageable conversion.
England rallied and with the hill as an advantage, piled the pressure on the Rovers. Kieden Hartley held Josh Boulger down a bit too long for the referee's liking after a clean break by the centre and was dispatched to the sin bin. The extra space allowed England to capitalise and it was Taylor again who crossed the whitewash, but sliced his conversion leaving England two points behind the hosts.
But Featherstone were not done and Blakeston showed his pace and again, racing through the England line for a second try of the evening although Plumchard could not add the extras.
Taylor then found himself on the wrong side of the referee's patience and was sin binned for also lying on too long in the tackle, just as Rovers were restored to a full compliment who then made use of their overlap to put Punchard away for a try which we also converted on the hour mark.
England rallied and despite being a man down, Jacob Jones showed his strength, bashing through the line of a flat Alex Bielby pass giving stand-in kicker Alex Smith an easy shot on goal to bring the students to within six. Ten minutes later, England struck again, with Sean Croston scything through on the angle, Taylor converting to level the score.
A nervy period followed, with Alex Smith's drop goal attempt going wide with five minutes remaining. An infringement 30 metres out by Featherstone saw Nathan Taylor take the two points on offer to move England ahead with two minutes remaining, with the visitors soaking up the pressure of a short-kick off and an enthusiastic final attack from Featherstone to secure the win.
Final Score: 24 - 26
Featherstone Rovers Reserves: Kieden Hartley, Nathan Wright, Brandan French, Jack Richardson, Darren Forde, Jorge Richardson, Tom Schofield, Adam Cooke, Ben Blakeston, Spencer Darley, Bradley Wright, Harry McAllister, Danny Maskill. Interchanges: Josh Beevers, Sam Ottewell, Sam Applegarth, Sam Hawkins, James Cranswick, Luke Walters, Morgan Punchard.
Featherstone Rovers Reserves: Tries: Darren Forde (3), Brandan French (31), Ben Blakestone (44, 55), Morgan Plumchard (60) Goals: Jorge Richardson 0/1, Morgan Plumchard 2/3
Sin Bin: Kieden Hartley (49 - Professional Foul)
England Universities: Nathan Taylor, Lee Registe, Matthew Chrimes, Josh Boulger, Lewis Munyoro, Alex Bielby, Alex Smith, Conner MacCallum, Tom Jubb, Andrew Joy, Daniel Munt, Sean Croston, Ryan Langton. Interchanges: Errol Carter, Craig Banks, Kai Fagan, Jacob Jones, Robert Branton.
England Universities Scorers: Tries: Nathan Taylor (14, 50), Jacob Jones (60), Sean Croston (71) Goals: Nathan Taylor 3/4, Alex Smith 1/1
Sin Bin: Nathan Taylor (58 - Professional Foul).
Referee: Luke Bland
Featured Image Credit: Simon Hall.