Wales Under 16s made history for a second time in 2022 with a narrow victory over the England Community Lions Under 16s following a superb game at Ince Rose Bridge that also thrilled viewers on Ourleague.
The Lions came into the contest as slight underdogs following a 22-14 defeat to Wales in June, yet relished their task against an athletic side.
Defences were on top throughout with scoring chances at a premium. There were hits aplenty and the intensity of the contest never dropped with all players giving their all.
Wales dominated territory for much of the first twenty-five minutes despite the trickery of Fletcher Holgate, the will of skipper Harvey Roberts, strong running from Tyler Jowitt, and an energetic start from Brandon Rowland.
It was also a big start from the visitors with starting props Lewis Jones and Troy Shearan making good ground, supported well by Ethan Paterson and Kaden Johnson. England's line speed was heroic, forcing numerous turnovers before Wales fashioned a couple of chances with Ethan Stebbings being tackled into touch and skipper Lloyd McEwan-Peters having an effort overturned for a double movement.
Finally, England had some field position and it was now Wales's turn to show defensive steel in stopping sweeping attacks on both sides of the field including a superb tackle to deny Jamie Jennings as Harrison Dodd proved difficult to contain.
The pressure eventually told and it was England that opened the scoring after 34 minutes when Oliver Smart used a combination of footwork and strength to get over the line after a couple of Wales handling errors, and Tom Papworth goaled to give the hosts a 6-0 lead at the break.
The second half continued to be fiercely fought with England initially establishing the upper hand and Wales rearguard responding with some excellent clearing runs, particularly from Ryan Williams and Sam Grice. Eventually, things switched around and Wales made their own pressure count when Jayden Grey was given the slightest opportunity from dummy half and plunged through for a score. Ethan Paterson goaled and later added a crucial penalty.
Again both teams traded chances with Wales's best opportunity coming five minutes from time when McEwen-Peters kicked on and chased through only for Cobie McGillivary to get there first.
England attacked into the final seconds but couldn't get close enough to the line and Wales celebrated victory in an excellent test match.
The Lions programme once again thanks all our volunteers for their service, in addition to all clubs, families, friends and players for their time and efforts.
The Under 16s finished with one win and two losses from their international games this season.
Harrison Dodd (Waterhead), Seth Abong (Hull Wyke), Rueben Ruane (Blackbrook), Jamie Jennings (Kells), Cobie McGillivary (Moldgreen); Tom Papworth (Lock Lane), Jackson Evans (Kells); Alfie Howley (Thornhill Trojans), Fletcher Holgate (Hensingham), Harvey Roberts (Thornhill Trojans), Oliver Smart (Siddal), Tyler Jowitt (Thornhill Trojans), Brandon Rowland (Leigh Miners Rangers). Subs: Joe Davies (Westhoughton Lions), Hayden Mitchell (Newsome Panthers), Dan Robson (Skirlaugh), Marcus Geener (Saddleworth Rangers), Cian Gleadall (Newsome Panthers), Josh Langley (Blackbrook), Reece Smethurst (Saddleworth Rangers).
Try: Smart (34).
Goal: Papworth 1/1.
Ryan Williams, Ethan Stebbings, Jake Nottingham, Lloyd McEwan-Peters, Sam Grice; Charlie Stoddart, Isaac Wheatley; Lewis Jones, Henry Parker, Troy Shearan, Oliver Ford, Ethan Paterson, Kaden Johnson. Subs: Brandon Richards, Evan Morse, Calum Jones, Kade Woodard, Cory Westermark, Carter Pritchard, Jayden Grey.
Try: Grey (54)
Goals: Paterson 2/2.
Photo taken by Ben Challis