- England Counties U20s begin tour of Russia with a close victory
- The teams will meet again on Wednesday, 8 June (5.00pm kick off BST)
England Counties U20s began their summer tour with a 19-14 victory over Russia U20s at Moscow’s Slava Stadium.
The hosts scored an early try, converted by fly half Churashov, to put England Counties on the back foot before Counties winger Alex Goble sprinted over from a well-worked team move 20 minutes in.
Fly half Lewis Dennett converted to level the scores for Counties who then extended their lead to 12-7 a few minutes later after outside centre Connor Wilkinson scored in the corner.
Russia were able to take back the lead just before half time when Maryshkin crashed over, converted once again by Churashov, to leave the score 14-12 to the hosts.
As the match progressed in the second half, England’s power in the forwards began to pay dividends. After a series of one-sided scrums, the referee awarded Counties a penalty try to give the visitors back the lead.
Dennett once again converted to make it 19-14 and the Counties held on for an impressive victory.
In a close content between two evenly matches teams, it was England Counties’ forward control that eventually got the upper hand.
The back row of Jack Thomas, Dan Broady and Adam Brankley combined well to test Russia at the breakdown and continued pressure led to several of the visitors’ tries.
Wilkinson’s try in the first half came off a well-worked set piece move and the penalty try in the second half was the result of England’s dominant pack.
Team manager Peter Vernon had spoken in the build up to the match of how tough a match this would be for England Counties and it certainly turned out to be a stern test for the visiting side.
The hosts were physical and abrasive throughout the game with the energy of England Counties’ replacements proving crucial to their victory.
England Counties’ coaching team of Richie Williams (Amersham & Chiltern RFC) and his assistant Paul Arnold (Flyde RFC) were pleased with how their side executed their game plan under immense pressure.
“It was a tough match and the Russia U20s side put us under plenty of pressure but the togetherness of this group was evident throughout,” said Vernon.
“It was a good test match where the players demonstrated their qualities both tactically and technically,” added Vernon. “Most pleasing however was the way in which the substitutions added great momentum at crucial times.”
The two sides will now meet again on Wednesday, 8 June and Vernon says the squad are looking forward to the match.
“We’re already excited about the second test match where we can tweak a few areas of our game and reinforce some of our attacking and defensive principles”
1. Tommy Phillips (Vice Captain)
2. Will Scholey
3. Karl Garside
4. Dale Lemon
5. James Apperley
6. Jack Thomas (Captain)
7. Dan Broady
8. Adam Brankley
9. Ben Pointon
10. Lewis Dennett
11. Alex Goble
12. Ellis Rudder
13. Connor Wilkinson
14. James Neal
15. Charlie Venables
16. Ziana Alexis - Montout
17. Alex Post
18. Hayden King
19. Max Berry
20. Kemp Price
21 Jack Harrison