On this day in 2002: England Academy secure series win over Australian Schoolboys

Drew Darbyshire
England Academy team that faced Australian Schoolboys in 2002

England Academy made history on this day in 2002 as they completed a 2-0 series win over the Australian Schoolboys at Headingley.

Wigan and Leeds had the most representatives in the England squad, with each club having five. Bradford and St Helens each had two players involved. There was one player from Wakefield, Castleford and Hull included.

In the Australian line-up, it featured the likes of Heath L’Estrange, Dimitri Pelo, Tim Smith, Ryan Hoffman and Ashton Sims; all of whom later played in Super League. Future Australia internationals Ben Hannant and Michael Weyman were also part of the Schoolboys.

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Mike Gregory’s side were the first team in 30 years to win a series against the Australian Schoolboys.

England went into the second test with confidence after beating Australia in the first test at Knowsley Road.

In the second test, the hosts went into the break with a 14-6 lead thanks to tries from Wakefield’s Matty Wray and Wigan’s Chris Melling (2). Steve Goodhew opened the scoring for Australia.

Melling added a penalty goal after the second half restart before Wray extended England’s lead. Tom Learoyd hit back for the Schoolboys late on but England held on to secure a series win.

It was a star-studded England team. Chris Bridge, Richie Mathers, Luke Robinson, Ryan Bailey, Jon Wilkin, Jamie Langley, Gareth Hock and Graeme Horne all made more than 200 Super League appearances in their careers.

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In more recent times, England Academy secured a 2-0 series win over the Australian Schoolboys on home soil in 2018.

England Academy

Melling (Wigan); Gardner (Leeds), Barker (Leeds), Bridge (Bradford), Wray (Wakefield); Mathers (Leeds), Robinson (Wigan); Bailey (Leeds), Beswick (Wigan), Barton (Wigan), Wilkin (St Helens), Langley (Bradford), Hock (Wigan). Subs: Gallagher (Leeds), Johnson (St Helens), Saxton (Castleford), Horne (Hull).

Australian Schoolboys

Farrell; Ale, Ross, Cain, Pelo; Aitken, Goodhew; Weyman, L’Estrange, Sims, Learoyd, Poore, Fulton. Subs: Smith, Hoffman, Hannant, Lillyman.

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