- Counties get better of star-studded CSM Bucuresti line-up
- Henry Robinson, Albert Portsmouth, Ben Hilton and captain Keith Laughlin with tries
England Counties 26 CSM Bucuresti 18
England Counties got their Romania tour off to the perfect start as they turned in an impressive performance with a 26-18 victory over CSM Bucuresti.
Team Manager Matt Long gave debuts to all 15 new county representatives in his squad and will have been impressed with what he saw ahead of Tuesday’s showpiece clash with Romania A at the Stadionul National "Arcul de Triumf".
The Counties got off to a great start, with a big tackle from kick-off by Eastern Counties' Albert Portsmouth resulting in a try for Henry Robinson of Hertfordshire out wide. It was converted by Cornwall’s Matt Shepherd.
Following a penalty to the home side, further Counties pressure lead to a try by Portsmouth, which was again converted by Shepherd.
The Romanian side, which included several overseas players, were very physical and enjoyed increasing territory and possession, which eventually lead to a well-worked try for their fly half. But the visitors matched the Romanians' physicality at the set piece and contact area, and their pressure was rewarded with a sin bin for CSM's No 5 a minute before the break.
England took a 14-10 lead into the interval and made several early substitutions in the second half. A penalty for the home side was quickly cancelled out with a try for Cornwall’s Ben Hilton, converted by Shepherd.
The home side kept the pressure up on the visitors with five points on the hour and threatened to move ahead when their wing made an interception on his own 22 and set off on what looked like an easy run in. However, a spectacular cover tackle by Leo Fielding of Gloucestershire pulled him down short of the line and prevented an almost certain score.
This gave the visitors fresh impetus, resulting in a fine try for captain Keith Laughlin of Northumberland to complete the scoring.