England Youth Draw First Blood as FC Youngsters Star

England Youth drew first blood at KCOM Craven Park against France U16s last night, out-scoring their French counterparts by seven tries to two to take the lead in the twin-test series.

England Youth drew first blood at KCOM Craven Park against France U16s last night, out-scoring their French counterparts by seven tries to two to take the lead in the twin-test series, with Hull FC youngsters Jacob Hookem and Leon Stewart amongst the try scorers.

Three of the tries came in a crucial ten-minute period early in the second half after the French had been reduced to 11 players and England to 12 following a skirmish on the stroke of half time.

Leading only 8-2 at the end of a frenetic and at times feisty first-half, it was a different England who emerged after the break, capitalising on their numerical advantage with tries for Hull FC’s Jacob Hookem, Warrington Wolves winger Luke Broadbent following excellent work from Wigan Warriors’ pair Logan Astley and Alex Sutton, and a richly-deserved score for Astley himself.

Debutant Will Pryce, son of former Great Britain international and former Black & White Leon, converted two of the tries to give England an insurmountable 24-2 lead.

Tries for winger Elle Sastre and scrum-half Cesar Rouge, and a conversion from talented Carcassone hooker Vincent Calvayrac, narrowed the gap to 12 points, but the respite proved only brief as Pryce intercepted smartly to score then converted his own try to restore England’s supremacy.

FC’s Leon Stewart squeezed over late on, with Pryce adding his fourth conversion to make the final score 36-12.

Yet things had started so promisingly for the French who began strongly, forcing a couple of early errors to create half chances they couldn’t quite convert into points. Limoux livewire Cesar Rouge was constantly probing and the brilliant Castleford Tigers full-back Bailey Hodgson had to be at his very best to prevent the French half from opening the scoring.

But by half-time all France had little to show for their efforts was a solitary Calvayrac penalty while England, on the back of hard-working forwards Femi Sanya of London Broncos and Wigan Warriors’ Matty Nicholson, had served notice of their intentions with a couple of well-taken tries.

First Hull’s Joel Speed dived over Tommy Makinson-style in the left corner, following excellent approach play from Pryce and Hodgson, then St Helens’ number 9 Taylor Pemberton dummied his way over from the play-the-ball – again too wide out for Pryce to convert.

A scrappy first half, punctuated by 14 penalties and a succession of handling errors, had offered little suggestion of what was to come, but whatever coach Danny Wilson had to say at half-time did the trick and he will have been delighted at his side’s second half display.

England and France meet again on Saturday (20 July) at Wakefield’s Mobile Rocket Stadium (KO 2pm) – a Test Match that will also be broadcast live on the RFL’s Our League app and Twitch.tv.

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