- France Universities hold on for a 25-24 win
- Luke Northmore’s brace of tries not enough for England
England Students were left eager for Friday’s rematch after falling short against France Universities on Sunday, 25-24, with their strong second half effort not enough to see them over the line.
France were quick to start the game and made England pay early on, as Thibaut Rampa raced over the line for a try in the third minute, with the conversion making it 7-0.
England were showing more signs of life as the minutes ticked on when a speculative French kick took a lucky bounce back into the arms of Kevin Kornath, and England were suddenly down two converted tries.
The French team’s lead did not hold for long, though, as Bath full back Wil Partington slotted home a penalty from a good distance to make it 14-3.
But England’s pack did not falter, and a solid driving maul off a lineout resulted in a penalty try. France responded immediately with a third try from Remi Cervantes, but this time the conversion was missed.
The English nearly scored again at the stroke of halftime, but couldn’t quite break the French defence and the home side went into the changing rooms with a 19-10 lead.
The second half was battle early on, but England were beginning to look the better side and were just looking for a breakthrough. Head coach Aaron James decided to open up the game and got immediate results from his players, as some quick passing ended with Cardiff Met’s Luke Northmore bursting through the middle for a try, setting up an easy conversion.
France were determined to hold their lead and a pair of penalties put them up 25-17. But England refused to go down as Northmore showed his speed again, leaving the French in the dust for another converted try.
With the scoreline 25-24 in favour of France, the English squad secured possession and tried to work the ball into opposition territory on the final play of the match, but the French won a penalty and kicked to touch to end a thrilling encounter.
“We’re frustrated that we didn’t win," said head coach Aaron James. "The way the guys approached it, and the way we worked together was outstanding, which made it even more frustrating to lose by a point.
"But we’ve taken quite a bit of confidence from the performance and we know we’ve got another shot at it. There’s a pretty steely focus from the boys to have a crack on Friday.”
England Students and France Universities will meet again at the Stade Municipal in Chambery at 6:30 local time on Friday, in front of a sell-out crowd of close to 3000, as the English look for revenge.