Lions no match for Wales
Wales U18s 40 v 10 English Lions U18s
By Karl Jones
Wales under-18s kept up their impressive record in meetings with English Lions under-18s after a 40-10 win at Taff’s Well RFC.
A flurry of second half tries proved telling as the hosts made it four wins from five in this fixture, ahead of a return visit in two weeks time.
Following a physical exchange of opening sets, Courtney Davies' high kick was spilled and, after Osian Phillips went close, Wales moved the ball left for Jordan Howells to slide over. Davies converted to give the host a six point advantage after eight minutes.
The Lions enjoyed a fair share of possession during the first half, but wasted promising field position through handling errors. Much to their credit, they defused fifth-tackle kicking situations admirably to prevent the home side from extending their lead.
A moment of controversy ensued on the half-hour mark as Howells raced out of the line to quell an overlap, but the centre’s shoulder charge was penalised only, and from the penalty England were again denied by a forward pass on the left edge.
A feature of Wales’ play was the timely addition of Chris Leyshon into the line; following a penalty for offside, Davies was able to pass under pressure and find Bradley Mais, who found Leyshon on his shoulder to unlock the Lions defence.
With England needing a spark, interchange hooker Nick Ratcliffe’s first involvement in the game was to dart out of dummy half and breach the Welsh defence for the first time. The Leigh East man kept calm and found Jamie Tracey in support to cross next to the posts.
Howells was again at the centre of things as the second half started – clever footwork saw him break free but was unable to retain possession in contact. The South Wales Scorpions centre continued to threaten, and was denied a second as he lost control of the ball as he attempted to squeeze over in the corner.
Stern defence from the home side also provided the tireless Rhys Fitzgerald with room to charge up-field, but a knock-on from Jordan Sheridan prevented Wales from capitalising on the break. Yet the hosts were to make the pressure tell; Mais identifying a mismatch in numbers on the short side, and having come from left-to-right, offloaded out of the back of his hand to release wing Lewis Stockton in the corner.
Following Leyshon’s second, Wales scored two tries in quick succession courtesy of their second rows – Mais again showing his Wigan calibre by forcing his way over from close range, and TJ Collin doing likewise as Wales surged downfield following the restart.
Yet the community side continued to compete and were immediately rewarded – a third try in a short period saw Alex Rudd dive over for his side’s second of the afternoon – however Wales were to have the final say as Thomas Davies slid in at the corner, before Josh Williams fielded a short England restart to wrap up the victory.
1 Chris Leyshon (South Wales Scorpions)
2 Lewis Stockton (Conwy Celts)
3 Matthew Davies (North Wales Crusaders)
4 Jordan Howells (South South Wales Scorpions)
5 Kyle Moore (Bradford Bulls)
6 Courtney Davies (South Wales Scorpions)
7 Jordan Sheridan (Conwy Celts)
8 Michael Connor (South Wales Scorpions)
9 Connor Farrer (South Wales Scorpions)
10 Osian Phillips (South Wales Scorpions)
11 TJ Collin (South Wales Scorpions)
12 Bradley Mais (Wigan Warriors)
13 Rhys Fitzgerald (South Wales Scorpions)
14 Ollie Vickers (Telford Raiders)
15 Jac Griffiths (Gwendraeth Valley Raiders)
16 Rhys Finney (South Wales Scorpions)
17 Thomas Davies (North Wales Crusaders)
18 Josh Williams
Tries: Howells (8), Leyshon (33, 51), Stockton (44), Mais (56) Collin (59), T. Davies (77), Williams (78),
Goals: Davies 4/8
ENGLAND COMMUNITY LIONS
1 Nathan Lawrence (Dewsbury Celtic)
2 Scott Pink (Wath Brow Hornets)
3 Tom Whittle (Ince Rose Bridge)
4 Declan Tomlinson (East Leeds)
5 Hershal Ward (Leicester Storm)
6 Christian Tyson (Askam)
7 Lennox Green (West Hull)
8 Tom Fletcher (Leigh East)
9 Matty Henson (Cockermouth)
10 Shaun Mumberson (Cockermouth)
11 Leon Tatlock (Thatto Heath)
12 Jamie Tracey (Thatto Heath)
13 Charlie Tomlinson (Wath Brow Hornets)
14 Nick Ratcliffe (Leigh East)
15 Charlie Hughes (East Leeds)
16 Alex Rudd (West Hull)
17 Reece Needham (Coventry Bears)
Tries: Tracey (35), Rudd (61)
Goals: Tomlinson 1/2