England U16s fight back

PUBLISHED: 10:07 06 February 2013

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SOUTH West, inspired by wings Jack Zilch and Sam Rees, staged a stirring fightback to beat the North 43-26 in an entertaining opening match in this season’s Under 16 Divisional Festival at Broadstreet.

The North stormed into a 19-5 lead midway through the first of three 20-minute periods, but Rees (QEH Bristol and Somerset) and Zilch (Tiverton School and Devon) scored two tries apiece to help transform a free-flowing contest. It was a game for connoisseurs of fine wing play as North pair Tom Somers (Easingwold School, York RFC and Yokshire) and Favour Maduka (Stonyhurst College and Lancashire) both tormented the South West defence in the opening period.

Somers, ranked the second-fastest 200 metres Uner 17 sprinter in the country, showed his paces in the second minute when he galloped over from his own 22.

Maduka’s thrust down the right then set up full-back Tom Gorman (Leeds GS, West Park Leeds RFC and Yorkshire) for a try that fy-half Mark Dixon (Lymm HS, Lymm RFC and Cheshire) improved.

The South West rallied when full-back Jamie Pearson (Abingdon School and Oxfordshire) crossed for an unconverted try but Maduka’s pace again unsettled the South West and Gorman went over for his second try.

But the South West ended the opening period only two points adrift after Rees wriggled free on the right and then cut inside for a brilliant individual try that was improved by fly-half Owen Waters (Kingswood School and Dorset & Wiltshire).

Zilch wen t over for his first try after South West won a five metre line out and moved the ball left to create the overlap for the wing and Clayton Dee (Churchdown School and Gloucestershire) added the extras.

The South West took control in the second period by scoring 19 unanswered points starting with Rees’s second try when he followed up a chip ahead and caught the North defence dozing.

Lock Harry Wilson (Kingshill School and Gloucestershire) crossed from a well-worked line-out move when he stormed down the short-side and centre Elliott Creed (Chosen Hill School and Gloucestershire) extended the lead when he broke through some weak tackling for a try that Waters converted.

Zilch went over for his second try early in the second half which Dee converted.

That completed the scoring for the South West but there was a well-taken consolation for the North when replacement left wing Connor Wilkinson (Kirkham GS, Preston Grasshoppers RFC and Lancashire) went over from long range and captain Sam Allan (Crossley Heath GS and Yorkshire) added the conversion .

London & SE beat the Midlands 26-14 in the second match of the day at Broadstreet.

All players were given game time and the chance to impress the watching England selectors who will now choose a 70-man squad to train at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire in the February half-term holiday.

During the training camp an England Under 16 squad to prepare for the internationals against Italy Under 17s at Lichfield on April 1 and Wales Under 16s at Oxford University on April 6 will be announced as well as squads for England North and England South for the Wellington International Festival in Berkshire from March 30 to April 5.

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