Guinguet, Albert, Franco
England Youth went down 8-20 to France Under-16 at The Big Fellas Stadium in Featherstone to draw the two-match junior international series 1-1. Despite a spirited second half performance, England could not break down a stubborn French defence enough times to overturn a sizeable half-time deficit.
For the second time in the series it was a question of which team would adapt better to the conditions – after the cold and unrelenting rain at Wakefield in Good Friday’s first match, Featherstone had clear blue skies, temperatures into the high teens and the famous Post Office Road slope to offer.
Playing uphill in the first period, England took 20 minutes to register any sort of control, struggling against the gradient and France’s aggressive approach as the visitors looked to take full advantage. After an almighty scramble on the England line, during which the ball rebounded off a post, Theo Guinguet managed to shunt his way over the England line for the first try after just a minute.
Lucas Albert, fresh from converting the game’s first try, found a gap nine minutes later to go over himself, before adding a second goal. Still finding tough the intensity of France’s play, England knocked-on in front of their own line, eventually leaving enough room for Luc Franco to sprint through. A late penalty by Albert just before half-time left England with an 18-0 deficit to overturn in the second period.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats winger Will Dagger put England’s recovery in progress by going over twice in the corner – the second following an excellent break by Elliott Windley and expert pass by the ever-impressive Cameron Smith. However it was not enough, as after a late penalty, France’s excellent tackling and tough defending left England 12 points short.
England coach Shane Eccles said: “It was disappointing that we lost the game but for us it’s about the experience for the players – we want to see them deal with a physical and mental challenge. We spoke about the French coming back stronger and we got ourselves into a battle rather than focusing on what we were trying to do in the game, and that’s a big learning curve for the players.”
Jacques O’Neill, Jon-Luke Kirby, Jacob Wardle, Elliot Windley, Harry Newman, Dyson Nicholson, Mikolaj Oledzki, Cameron Smith, Kevin Brown, William Dagger, Danny Walker, Liam Walsh, Caine Barnes, Samuel Kibula, Declan O’Donnell, Oliver Partington, James Worthington
Leo Mathieu, Louis Castres, Theo Lardot, Georgy Gambaro, Nicolas Company, Ayoub Mezianni, Cameron Chamorin, William Planela, Lucas Albert, Luc Franco, Maxime Garcia, Justin Sangare, Theo Guinguet, Tom Bonillo, Thibault Franck, Clement Meunier, Hugo Priels