England pulled off a dramatic victory, defeating holders France 14-12 in the European U19s Championship at the Pasian di Prato Stadium in Udine, Italy, coming back from being 8-0 down at the break. The win was immediately dedicated to assistant coach Gary McMahon, who tragically passed away when with the squad last weekend.
Winger Noah Lancellot claimed two tries as part of the fightback, England head coach Allan Coleman, who stands down now, understandably emotional and full of praise for his charges. “I’m so proud of everybody, players, staff – all who has been part of what we wanted to achieve,” he said.
“Our message at half time was let’s leave everything out there, give it all we’ve got, no regrets and I’m lost for words; Gary was behind everything we did. A number of these players will go on and sign professional from this, I have no doubt of that.”
In a fiery encounter as the light faded, Justin Tropis opened the scoring for the French with a fine long range effort, Thomas Monclus missing the conversion but adding two penalties before the break, both sides having a player sinbinned in the opening forty for late challenges.
England had two tries disallowed, winger Andy Djeukam couldn’t beat the touchline in the first half and his replacement Harvey Oldroyd was also ruled out in the second, but Lancelott did find space on the opposite wing for his double just after the hour, one a spectacular dive into the corner.
England’s improved defensive effort, enthusiasm in contact and territorial advantage throughout the second half unsettled the French and Oldroyd finished another superb left to right move in the corner to move them ahead. French centre Arthur Salles went over five minutes from time, but Monclus missed the conversion that could have taken it to golden point.
France 12 : Julien Laporte, Damien Huescar, Arthur Salles, Maxence Barbet, Justin Tropis, Lenny Chachoua, Thomas Monclus, Romain Humbert, Ben Abdesle Yacine, Theo Fouque, Benjamin Sinimale, Enzo Deltheil, Louis Grossemy : Subs: Salim Nahal, Sosthene Ennoyotie, Rayan Tadjeur, Nolan Lopez-Buttignol : Tries: Justin Tropis (3), Arthur Salles (75) : Goals: Thomas Monclus 2/4 : Sin Bin: Sosthene Ennoyotie (29 – late challenge)
England 14 : Ryan Wood, Noah Lancelott, Callum Murphy, Mekhi Bridgeman-Reany, Andy Djeukam, Toby Hughes, Jack Newbegin, Matthew Parkes, Logan Holgate, Josh Leeson, Harry Penny, Kieran Welburn, Scott Parnaby : Subs: Kieran Dean, Rio McQuistan, Dyan Turner, Harvey Oldyroyd : Tries: Noah Lancelott (50, 62), Harvey Oldroyd (68) : Goals: Kieran Welburn 1/3 : Sin Bin: Dylan Turner (37 – late challenge)
Half time: 8-0
Referee: Kristoff Young (Wales)
In the preceding Plate Final to decide third place in the tournament, Wales defeated Ukraine 32-7. There was little between the sides in the opening 25 minutes, props Michael Carter and Bradley Williams running hard for Wales and Ukraine responding in kind through Maksym Harmash and Bohdan Stetsun.
Dafydd Orr Morgan delayed a restart after Oleksandr Formiuk defused the bomb in the in-goal area that saw Wales reduced to 12 players with a sin binning, Oleksandr Levandovskyi slotting over a now trademark drop goal to move Ukraine ahead.
Unconverted tries late in the half from Bradley Toy, burrowing over from dummy-half, and Oscar Fisher in the corner saw Wales lead 8-1 at the break. Heavy rain and a strong wind accompanied the second period, Fisher with his second and Mason Phillips extending the advantage by the 50th minute.
Ukraine showed the spirit that has made them so popular throughout the tournament, building pressure to give the opportunity for Harmesh spring out of dummy-half to add some respectability to the score line, Oleksandr Forniuk adding a difficult conversion.
Back rower Rhys Davies claimed a brace for the Welsh to confirm the win, head coach Wayne Ponting commenting: “Ukraine gave us a massive fright, fair play to them they upset out game plan. Once we got back into it, we found our feet. We finished third in Serbia in 2018 so, with a new group of boys, this is another massive step in the right direction.”
Wales 32 : Lewis Ingram, Dylan Morgan, Mason Phillips, Bradley Toy, Ethan Hanley, Billy Walkley, William McCarthy, Michael Carter, Daffyd Orr Morgan, Bradley Williams, Charlie Glover, Rhys Davies, Gethin Thomas. Subs: Isaac Morgan, Jamie Jenkins, Oscar Fisher, Scott Pritchard. Tries: Bradley Toy (32), Oscar Fisher (38, 45), Mason Phillips (50), Rhys Davies (59, 79). Goals: Billy Walkley 4/6 : Sin Bin: Dafydd Orr Morgan (22 – professional foul)
Ukraine 7 : Oleksandr Formiuk, Davyd Zazimko, Nazarii Daniv, Vitalii Romanov, Ihor Yefanov, Ivan Lipisii, Oleksandr Levandovskyi, Maksym Harmash, Yevhen Checheta, Oleksandr Slizovskyi, Vitalii Kharun, Bohdan Stetsun, Danylo Kozak. Subs: Oleksandr Dyskyi, Andrii Levchyk, Oleh Kaspruk, Oleh Bobrykovych. Tries: Maksym Harmesh (65) : Goals: Oleksandr Forniuk 1/1, Danylo Kozak 0/1 : Drop Goal: Oleksandr Levandovskyi
Half time: 8-1 : Referee: Aaryn Golding Belafonte (England)