England Students beat the RAF on Wednesday evening as part of their preparations for the World Cup in Australia in July.
David Butler reports..
England Universities 26
Royal Air Force 6
At the University of Nottingham
England Universities capped a successful two day training camp with a 26-6 win over the Royal Air Force, but were made to work for their victory.
It was Zack McComb who struck first for the students, pouncing on James Woodburn-Hall’s grubber kick and grounding inches before the dead ball line on the right hand side of the field. Sam Druce was on target with the conversion to nose the England team ahead.
Sustained pressure and a penalty gave England field position and the students’ left-to-right move saw Woodburn-Hall fire a cut-out pass to McComb who jinked through the defence to touch down. Druce was off target with the conversion.
The RAF defence clicked up a notch in the following sets, with both sides playing free flowing rugby in an end to end encounter with Ben Mellor making big hits for the services side and Josh Halstead delivering a fine defensive effort for the students. England lost Jason Bass on the quarter of an hour mark to a rib injury and shuffled their backline to bring Kieran Smith into play from the bench.
On the half-hour mark, Jake Reed fired a rapid ball left to Druce, who dropped off to Marcus Stock who spun his way through his opposition number to dive in to the left of the posts, setting up the easy conversion for Druce to move the England into a 16-0 lead which they held at the break.
With the wind behind them, the RAF made better use of half backs’ John Ledger’s and Adam Flintham’s boots, kicking long and deep into the England territory. Garry Dunn, Ledger and Scott Stevenson combined to allow Kev Bruneye to barge through on the left hand side, with Bruneye using his strength to ground the ball solidly. Ledger’s kick was on target to bring the servicemen back into the fight.
Druce, having been instrumental in many of England’s attacking plays scored a cheeky try of his own from dummy-half, running up the blindside as the Air Force defence all moved to the open side, but was off target with the kick.
The RAF put together a purple patch of attacking plays as the game entered the final quarter, with two 40/20s from Ledger pinning the students in their own half, forcing back-to-back sets, but the England defence stood firm throughout.
Winger Nathan Hill streaked away on the back of Woodburn-Hall’s break up the right hand side of the field, with Druce adding the extras to complete the scoring.
England Universities: Jason Bass, Nathan Hill, Zack McComb, Dan Harrison, Elliot Hall, James Woodburn-Hall, Sam Druce, Josh Halstead, Jake Reed, Liam Wood, Jack Lazenby, Marcus Stock, Matt Ross. Subs: Kieran Smith, Carl Southan, Lewis Lord (not used), Malikhi Lloyd-Jones, Harry Kidd, James Mason, Kieran Sherrat, Lewis Taylor, Mike Quickenden.
Tries: Zack McComb (3, 10), Stock (30), Druce (50), Hill (65),
Goals: Sam Druce 3/5
Royal Air Force: Scott Stevenson, Zac Morris, Kev Bruneye, Josh Kelly, Tom Champion, John Ledger, Adam Flintham, Josh Scott, Garry Dunn, Jake Starbuck, Sam Breeze, Sam Roberts, Ben Mellor. Subs: Dave Davies, Robert Baskerville, Joe Mann, Adam Middleton, Dave Fenney.
Try: Kev Bruneye (47)
Goal: John Ledger 1/1