England put in a determined performance against Wales in the opening round of the Student Rugby League Four Nations, although the Welsh side will take plenty of positives from the game.
It took just five minutes for the deadlock to be broken, when Alex Eckley finished a quick passing move from Tom Jubb and Kieran Smith, although Smith was unable to add the extras.
Wales showed a bit too much steel when Fraser Stroud’s swinging arm connected with Matthew Chrimes, earning him a ten-minute period in the bin. But undeterred, they pressed England with Dafydd Jones going in on the left corner to level the scores, Henri Roberts unable to convert.
Ten minutes later, Conner MacCallum sliced through on Kieran Smith’s flat pass, with Smith adding the extras to push England back in front. And it was England again minutes later as Josh Boulger finished a flowing passing move to go in to the right of the sticks, again Smith was on target with the boot.
Matthew Chrimes burrowed through after a worrying juggle of the ball on the half hour mark, with Smith on target from the touchline. But Wales were not done, with Rowland Kaye pouncing on Cobi Green’s grubber kick, allowing Fraser Stroud to add the conversion to bring Wales within two scores at the break.
MacCallum powered onto Kieran Smith’s short ball four minutes into the second half to open the lead up further, Smith landing the conversion. Alex Bielby was next to cross as England flexed their muscles, with a show and go move ten metres out. Smith kicked the easy two.
Wales rallied and applied pressure to England, which eventually yielded a try for Cobi Green, taking Rhys Davies’ inside pass. Stroud added the conversion.
England ramped up again, with Jacob Jones barging his way through the line after Wales knock on. Smith was unable to convert. Five minutes later, Lee Registe cut back inside to jink his way through. Sean Croston had a shot at goal but was unsuccessful.
England’s best play of the game came with ten minutes to go, as Boulger scorched out of his goal line and passed to Registe. Registe’s quick play the ball gave Tom Jubb the space he needed to zoom downfield, with Ryan Langton backing up to touchdown. Smith was back on target at goal.
Matthew Chrimes had the final word for England, finishing a left to right move, which Smith failed to convert.
England Universities: Joshua Boulger, Lee Registe, Matthew Chrimes, Sean Croston, Errol Carter, Alex Bielby, Kieran Smith, Daniel Gover, Tom Jubb, Andrew Joy, Alex Eckley, Jacob Jones, Ryan Langton. Interchanges: Callum Fletcher, Conner MacCallum, Caley Gray, Robert Branton.
England Universities Scorers:
Tries: Alex Eckley (5), Conner MacCallum (23, 44), Matthew Chrimes (30, 73), Josh Boulger (26), Alex Bielby (48), Jacob Jones (60), Lee Registe (65), Ryan Langton (70)
Goals: Kieran Smith 6/9, Sean Croston 0/1
Wales Students: Connor Harding, Dafydd Jones, Aled Davies, Henri Roberts, James Bartlett, Fraser Stroud, Cobi Green, Dewi Billingham, Macauley Harris, Ellis Simon, Rowland Kaye, Rhys Davies, Keiron Lewis. Interchanges: Mathew Morgan, Sam Baker, Jacob Lee, Ieuan Roberts.
Wales Students Scorers:
Tries: Dafydd Jones (16), Rowland Kaye (34), Cobi Green (58)
Goals: Henri Roberts 0/1, Fraser Stroud 2/2
Sin Bin: Fraser Stroud 13 Min – Swinging Arm
Referee: Connor Astbury