The Wales and England under 18 sides fought out a thrilling 26-all draw at Caerphilly on Wednesday night but both sides know that they must lift their game when they both come up against the might of Australia in their next games.
England struck back on eight minutes when Birmingham Bulldogs’ Ryan Millar pounced on a loose ball following a grubber kick. Luke Willings’ kick was centimetres wide to leave the visitors two points behind.
Wales extended their lead on the quarter hour. Jean Baptiste Bruzhulier, from Cardiff would you believe, set up the score by running 60 metres breaking free of the England backline. He laid off to Dafydd Carter who in turn set up James Griffiths to score in the corner.
Straight away Wales scored again when Dale Evans completed a fine attacking move involving most of the backs. Courtney Davies had missed the previous conversion but made no mistake this time to make the score 16-4 to Wales.
And four minutes later they were level when Jacob Blades set up Nathan Slater to go in just left of the sticks and Pyke goaled again.
They almost extended their advantages six minutes into the second half but Michael Channing was pulled into touch by Jacob Blades when diving for the line.
England recovered, worked their way up the field and Jack Francis broke through to sprint the last 20 metres to the line to level the scores again. Pyke missed the kick.
Morgan was then denied for a second time from the restart, being pushed into touch ten metres from the try-line by a pack of England defenders.
“Credit to the lads that they fought hard to earn a draw but we were disappointed not to have won,” said Wales coach Stuart Williams. “We know we’re playing catch-up with England all the time with the amount of experience they have, but we’ve not lost to them in the last four outings now which is some achievement. And to be disappointed to earn a draw shows how far we’ve come in the last few years.”
1. Jacob Morgan (Cardiff Demons / Crusaders)
2. James Griffiths (CPC Bears / Crusaders)
3. Michael Channing (Harlequins)
4. Jack Pring (Crusaders)
5. Rhys Fenton (Newport Titans / Crusaders)
6. Dafydd Carter (Blackwood Bulldogs / Crusaders)
7. Courtney Davies (NPT Steelers / Crusaders)
8. Chris Davies (Valley Cougars / South Wales Scorpions)
9. Dale Evans (Crusaders)
10. Dan Crimmins (Newport Titans)
11. Matthew Meek (Harlequins)
12. Matthew Crane (Penallta Storm / Crusaders)
13. Rhodri Lloyd (Penallta Storm / Crusaders)
15. Kyle Blackmore (Crusaders)
16. Michael Griffiths (CPC Bears / Crusaders)
19. Rhys Watkins (Penallta Storm / Crusaders)
20. Jean Baptiste Bruzhulier (Cardiff Demons)
1. Jacob Blades (Holderness Vikings)
2. Joe Bullock (Blackpool Scorpions)
3. Jamie Acton (Hemel Hempstead)
4. Blake Mahovic (West Cumbria)
5. Ryan Millar (Birmingham Bulldogs)
6. Adam Swift (Blackbrook)
7. Nathan Slater (Myton Warriors)
8. Jack Francis (Saddleworth)
9. Callum Phillips (West Cumbria)
10. Jack Gay (Hull Dockers)
11. Luke Willings (West Bank)
12. Dave Pyke (Thatto Heath)
13. Jack Bussey (Stanningley)
14. Nathan Skupski (Thatto Heath)
15. Ryan Green (Holderness Vikings)
16. Sam Baker (West Hull)
17. Alistair Leak (West Cumbria)
Tries: Millar (8, 24), Slater (28), Francis (43), Mahovic (55)
Goals: Willings 0/1, Pyke 2/3, Bussey 1/1