With the senior war of the roses put on the rack for now it is with great anticipation that I awaited to see how competitive and successful the Academy version will be.
Yorkshire has the steely Lee Crooks at the helm while Lancashire opted for the wisdom of Swinton boss Paul Kidd.
Traditionally Yorkshire had the upper hand in the origin games so having spent some time observing the Lancashire lads prepare for this series it was clear that the occasion was being taken seriously the management team for the Lancashire side had three lengthy sessions (Tue, Thur and Sat) and with the bulk of the squad coming from Wigan, St Helens and Warrington, and with some of those players making training for their respective first teams it was looking promising for the red rose gang.
There is no doubt that Mr Crooks had his charges ready to play and the fact that Leeds, Hull, Wakefield, Bradford, Hull KR, Salford and Harlequins all have representatives adds pedigree to the white rose claims.
The game was staged at the Halliwell Jones Stadium home of the Wolves with the match set as a curtain raiser before the challenge cup match between the Wolves and Barrow. This year’s series will be an integral to the selection of the England U18’s Academy side that is to play France in July, later this year.
The Teams were:
Lancashire…..1.Nicky Stanton(Wigan) 2.Andrew Thornley(Wigan) 3.Ross Bradley(Wigan) 4.Scott Yates(Widnes) 5.Adam Twamley(St Helens) 6.Kyle Eastmond(St Helens) 7.Sam Tompkins(Wigan) 8.Neil Holland(Wigan) 9.Alex McLurg(St Helens) 10.Lee Mossop(Wigan) 11.Matty Blythe(Warrington) 12.Lee Mitchell(Warrington) 13.Craig Howard(Warrington)
Subs:14.Mike Priest(Wigan) 15.Daniel Barker(Whitehaven) 16.Ben Mellor(Warrington) 17.Joe Gandy(Warrington)
Yorkshire……1.Dennis Tuffour(Harlequins) 2.Liam Welham(Hull KR) 3.James Archibald(Leeds) 4.Danny Allen(Leeds) 5.Aaron Murphy(Wakefield) 6.Kyle Wood(Wakefield) 7.Gareth Moore(Leeds) 8.Nathen Freer(Hull) 9.Danny Houghton(Hull) 10.Nathen Armitage(Bradford) 11.Larne Patrick(Bradford) 12.Joe Howie(Leeds) 13.Leon Walker(Salford)
The game began with Lancashire red hot with a lovely wide ball from Eastmond to send Thornley in out wide who then compounded his excellent start by visiting the sin bin for dissent. Yorkshire took full advantage of the extra man scoring two tries the first an Armitage barge over and then Joe Howie ripped the ball 1-1 and returned it to the Lancashire line for a lead of 10-4 but that was all she wrote for Yorkshire as they never looked in the game after that with the return of the adept and pacey Eastmond the red rose county steamrollered the white counter parts Howard getting them back on terms and then a smart Eastmond break lead to Tompkins crossing and just before Half time Stanton crossed with Yates kicking 3 conversions Lancashire lead 22-10 at the interval.
The second half was even more dominant for the lads from Lancashire with the more dynamic and robust forwards getting on top of the white rose counter parts with the ever probing Eastmond who capitalised on the great field position created by the pack to use his footwork and score a try which ended the game as a contest on 43 minutes. Eastmond bagged his second of the match 10 minutes from time when he latched onto a neat chip through from Tompkins to take the score to 34-10 Yorkshire did get rewarded for their endeavour and hard work when Howie grabbed a touchdown in the final minute which was converted by Moore to end the game 34-16.
In summery the Lancashire outfit were in total control for more that an hour of the match winning the battle for field position and territorial advantage the forwards laid the foundation for the slick halfbacks to create tries and the kicking game of Tompkins and Eastmond was far superior to the Yorkshire counter parts.
Best for Lancashire were: Eastmond, Mossop and Holland
Best for Yorkshire were: Walker, Moore and Tuffour.