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Ragbi Mzee View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: English Counties XV
    Posted: 11 Sep 2007 at 22:19
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England Counties XV 21 Spain 15

Two tries in the last eight minutes of a keenly contested encounter gave the England Counties XV the second win of their three match programme in the FIRA/AER Rugby Festival in Morlaas, South West France tonight.

Having destroyed Russia with a 12-try rampage in their opening game, the Counties objective was to develop the enterprising, attacking style that had left their supporters and management in raptures only a few days previously.

There was never on doubt in the Counties camp that Spain, recently elevated to 20 th in the IRB international rankings, would present a sterner test than Russia and that perception was quickly reinforced.

The Counties contributed to their first-half malaise with a handful of uncharacteristic handling errors, while the place-kicking of fly-half Tristan Roberts fell some way below the standard that brought him eight successes in the opening match.

Spain were also much better drilled defensively and more street wise and physical at the breakdown, which left the Counties struggling to either create or find the space to move the ball with the freedom and fluency they showed in scoring 12 tries against Russia.

As a result, the action never really flowed and scoring was restricted to the place kicking of the fly-halves, Roberts landing two for the Counties and  Mathieu Gratton finding the target three times for Spain to leave the Counties trailing 9-6 at half-time.

With prop Peter Joyce in the sin-bin for an offence at a ruck, the Counties were unable to impose themselves on the match in the face of staunch opposition and with fly-half Gratton and replacement Manuel Olivares both converting penalties to keep Spain in the driving seat, the game moved into the final 10 minutes before the crucial scores arrived.

On 74 minutes a catch-and-drive at a lineout finally gave the Counties the lead after a Roberts penalty had put them within striking distance, replacement hooker Glenn Cooper emerging with the ball to claim the try after a well-constructed maul.

Replacement Frankie Neale made no mistake with the conversion and the Counties wrapped up the win in the style that they had been chasing all night, when they finally created space for wingman Nick Royle to run at front-row forwards wide out and he left three players in his wake for the final try after 82 minutes.

England Counties XV: J Smales (Tynedale & Northumberland); N Royle (Fylde & Lancashire), K Dench (Otley & Yorkshire), P Mooney (Otley & Northumberland), T Jarvis (Stourbridge & Gloucestershire); T Roberts (Cinderford & Kent), J Doherty (Wharfedale & Yorkshire); C Rowland (Stourbridge & Somerset), D Bick (Blackheath & North Midlands), P Joyce (Redruth & Cornwall), M Owen (Manchester & Cheshire), T Bason (Blackheath & Kent) capt, J Kellard (Blackheath & Kent), D Cooper (Durham University & Durham), D Archer  (Henley & Hertfordshire).
Replacements all used: G Cooper (Redruth & Somerset), J  Darren Jacques (Redruth & Cornwall), R Snowball (Otley & Yorkshire), D Allen (Blackheath & Kent),  C Aikman (Halifax & Lancashire), C Malherbe (Wharfedale & Yorkshire), F Neale (Blackheath & Kent).

Spain: C Sempere; M Tudela, M Mazo, R Turrion, P Martin; M Gratton, C Arenas; J Insausti, M Cidre, J Moreno, I Criado capt, S Souto, M Acena, C Hijar, J Tourtoulou.
Replacements used: M Serrano, J Recuerda, M Olivares.

Referee: P Guazer (France)

Issued by England Counties Press Officer Tony Simpson (07764 336708)
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