The U18 6 Nations Festival kicked off on Saturday at Hartpury College’s Gillman’s Ground.
Host nation England kicked things off against Wales before Ireland took on France, and the opening matchday finished up with Scotland’s game against France.
England got off to the perfect start, beating Wales 38-20 with their 10/12 axis of Sedbergh’s Tom Curtis and Beechen Cliff’s Orlando Bailey provided some real spark throughout the game, indeed between them they contributed 23 points, with Bailey scoring two tries and Curtis slotting five conversions and a penalty.
The battle between Curits and his opposite number, Ed Dunford of Whitgift, was one of the most hotly anticipated of the entire opening round and the pair exchanged early penalties before England broke loose with Bailey’s brace and a further try for Denstone College’s Joe Browning. Clifton College’s Ioan Lloyd responded for Wales, but England took a healthy 24-10 lead into the half time break.
St Ambrose College’s Raphael Quirke, half back partners with Curtis at Sale Sharks, crossed for England in the second half before Bailey’s Beechen Cliff and Bath teammate John Stewart crossed for England’s fifth of the game.
Wales were more than in the game though, making it a cracking contest and scored further tries either side of Stewart’s, first through Dylan Davies before outside centre Mason Grady finished the scoring late on.
After the game, England U18 Head Coach Jim Mallinder spoke to www.englandrugby.com saying: “It was a good positive start for us. We played some really good rugby in that first half and scored some good tries. Possession dried up a little in the second half and credit to Wales who came back into the game but I thought our defence was outstanding.”
“It’s a good start to the tournament, the players will learn a lot from the experience and it gives us a good platform from which to build on. We need to sort out our set piece and that is understandable as this is a relatively new group who have only come together recently and we need to have a look at our attacking structure as we left a few tries out there. In defence, we need one or two little tweaks but overall we are really happy with that performance.”
Ireland v France
Ireland lost out to France narrowly in the second game of the day, fighting back from 22-7 down at halftime but still finishing up on the losing side, 29-24.
By half time the French had scored four tries, a brace from Maxime Baudonne with Alexandre Borie and Thomas Ployet also on the scoresheet, Ireland responding through the captain and number 8 Alex Kendellen.
Nolan Legarrec scored first in the second half for the French, but then Ireland came absolutely roaring back with tries through Tom Stewart and Jamie Osbourne, but sadly for them despite the huge momentum swing it was not quite enough to turn the game around.
Scotland v Italy
A late Fabio Schiabel try broke Scottish hearts as the Lafert San Dona man gave Italy a 19-18 victory over Scotland in the final game of the opening day at the U18 6 Nations Festival.
Italy had taken an early lead through a Tomasso Di Bartolemeo score, but Scotland responded with a try for Matt Currie of Merchiston Castle, set up by his exceptional schoolmate Jamie Dobie, the skipper on the day and the man who so lit up the Rosslyn Park 7s.
His side scored again midway through the half through Fettes College wing Harry Patterson, sending Scotland into the break 12-7 up. Patterson added three points from a penalty after a Tommasso Menoncello yellow card early in the second half for a 15-7 lead and did so again shortly after for 18-7.
However, Italy responded in dramatic fashion as Andrea Pancini scored with just a minute left to play for 18-14. Even then, Scotland must have felt safe, but with the clock well into the red Schiabel sunk the dagger into Scottish hearts to give Italy the most dramatic of 19-18 victories.
Speaking to www.scottishrugby.org, Scotland U18 Head Coach Ross Miller said:
“The players are disappointed not to get the result but it was a good learning experience for them. I thought there were some real positives in the way we attacked and how we kept possession, however, it is a credit to the Italian side as they took their opportunities in the second half.”
Article by: http://www.fifteenrugby.com