- England Counties bounce back after Scotland defeat
- France failed to score a try after an impressive defensive performance
England Counties got back to winning ways at Blackheath RFC with a resounding 32-3 victory over France Federal.
France were eager for revenge having lost this fixture last year and the opening exchanges between the two teams set the tone for what was a very physical match. Counties fly half Joe Tarrant, who was threatening throughout, cut through France’s line within 10 minutes to set up winger James Stokes.
Both teams struggled to get the upper hand for much of the first half until scrum half Sam Stuart broke through France’s defence and offloaded to second row Joe Makin who crashed over the line to put the hosts 12-0 ahead. France's fly half Guenin then made it 12-3 after winning a penalty under the posts as half time approached.
England failed to execute several opportunities in the opening forty minutes but made an instant impact in the second half as hooker Tom Cowan-Dickie scored in the corner straight from kick off. Full back Mike Wilcox hit the upright to miss the conversion.
As France began to tire, there was another moment of magic from Tarrant who sidestepped his opposite number and sprinted through to make it 22-3.
With England now in complete control, James Stokes extended the lead to 25-3 before flanker Harry Broadbent made a rampaging run from England’s own try line, offloading to Stokes who scored in the corner after 68 minutes. Counties held off a late resurgence with the score 32-3 at the final whistle.
England Counties: It's full time and England have beaten France 32-3. Captain Keith Laughlin gives his reaction pic.twitter.com/wIJrKhtXef— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) 11 March 2016
While fly half Tarrant stood out from the England’s backs, it was their forwards who decided the game. France made it very tough for them at the breakdown, their flanker Giraud was a particular threat while the French front row caused England’s some issues at the scrum.
As the match developed however, England’s forwards looked fitter and more cohesive than their French counterparts and gaps began to open up for the Counties backs.
Captain Keith Laughlin said it was a hard-fought win but well deserved. “It was a long two weeks after the Scotland defeat and the French brought a tough physical battle. We’ve worked really hard and to not concede a try shows how committed we were.”
PRIDE IN THE SHIRT
England Counties had their six match unbeaten run ended two weeks ago by Scotland Club XV but a much-improved performance restored some confidence amongst the team.
While their defensive system let them down against Scotland, it was never in doubt here as France failed to find any gaps.
Head Coach James Shanahan said it was a performance that put some pride back in the England Counties shirt. “I wanted to see their desire because I know we have the talent. The team were outstanding today and their attitude was faultless.”
“They showed what it means to represent their country,” added Shanahan. “We left some points out there but it was a great overall performance. We’re looking forward to Canada now and I’m glad we did National League and County rugby proud tonight.”
|England Counties XV||Club and County|
|1 Andrew Brown||Coventry and Derbyshire|
|2 Tom Cowan-Dickie||Redruth and Cornwall|
|3 Dan Seal||Cambridge and East Midlands|
|4 Joe Makin||Hull Ionians and Yorkshire|
|5 Ian Kench||Esher and Surrey|
|6 Keith Laughlin (captain)||Blaydon and Northumberland|
|7 Harry Broadbent||Rosslyn Park and Cheshire|
|8 Christopher Davies||Richmond and Cheshire|
|9 Sam Stuart||Richmond and Surrey|
|10 Joe Tarrant||Ampthill and Eastern Counties|
|11 Leo Fielding||Blackheath and Gloucestershire|
|12 Sebastian Rodwell||London Irish Wild Geese and Gloucestershire|
|13 Markus Burchum||Blackheath and Kent|
|14 James Stokes||Cambridge and Eastern Counties|
|15 Mike Wilcox||Cinderford and Gloucestershire|
|16 Matt Miles||Old Albanians and Hertfordshire|
|17 Trevor Davison||Blaydon and Durham|
|18 Matt Beasley||Wharfedale and Cheshire|
|19 Tom Baldwin||Blackheath and Kent|
|20 Jack Walsh||Blackheath and Kent|
|21 Brett Daynes||Cambridge and East Midlands|
|22 Chris May||Old Albanians and Hertfordshire|
|23 Spencer Sutherland||Esher and Surrey|