England Counties U18 have made 8 changes to the side that beat Ireland U18 Clubs & Schools on Wednesday ahead of Saturday’s second Test.
England won the opening game 15-13 and are looking to emulate Ireland 2-0 series win last April. The game takes place at the United Services Sports Ground in Portsmouth once again, and England are again captain by Waddesdon Church of England School flanker, Matthew Wilkinson.
He is joined again in the back row by Reed’s Austin Willis, while St Edward’s Oxford’s Cameron King is promoted from the bench to the number 8 shirt.
Haileybury’s Oliver Moody is again in the second row, he has a new partner on Saturday though, Hayes’ Matas Jurevecius. There is an all new front row, with Worcester 6th form College’s Jamie White at loosehead, Stamford’s Harry Clayton at hooker, and Lymm High School’s James Sherlock at tighthead.
The half backs are all new, with The Grange’s Harry Craven at scrum half and Peter Symonds College’s Thomas Knight-Owen in at fly half, Truro College’s Aaron Simmonds comes in at full back.
Elsewhere in the backline it is as you were. Solihull’s William Rigg and double try-scorer in the first Test Zachary Clow of St John’s College are the centre pairing, while on the wings Epsom College’s Theo Barkway Hall and St Olave’s Grammar School’s Aaron Grandidier-Nkanang keep their places.
England Counties U18 Team Manager Dave Penberthy enjoyed a long chat with www.englandrugby.com earlier this week, and looking ahead to the second Test against Ireland, he said:
“We know Ireland will come back strong but we believe in the character of our squad and we showed our resilience in the first game. Everyone will have the opportunity to play and we just want them to go out there and seize this chance.”
He also paid tribute to his coaching team, saying: “To have guys like Giles Heagerty, Matt Hutchings, Bee Bannister and Andrew Rickard as well as everyone else who support these young men is fantastic. They create a superb working environment which makes it easy to get the best out of the players.”
Pride in the shirt was another big theme for Penberthy, who said: “They (England Counties U18s players) are young guys who are desperate to play rugby and as soon as they saw the England shirt they realised they were playing for their country and how special an occasion this is. It just means so much to all of them. This is something they will never forget and we want to make sure they enjoy the experience.”
A second win against Ireland on Saturday would make it all the more memorable for these young English players.
England Counties U18 v Ireland U18 Clubs & Schools – Saturday 7th April, 12pm, United Services Sports Ground, Portsmouth
England Counties U18 XV:
15 Aaron Simmonds (Truro College), 14 Theo Barkway Hall (Epsom College), 13 Zachary Clow (St John’s College, Southsea), 12 William Rigg (Solihull), 11 Aaron Grandidier-Nkanang (St Olave’s GS), 10 Thomas Knight-Owen (Peter Symonds’ College), 9 Harry Craven (The Grange), 1 Jamie White (Worcester 6th form College), 2 Harry Clayton (Stamford), 3 James Sherlock (Lymm High School), 4 Matas Jurevicius (Hayes), 5 Oliver Moody (Haileybury), 6 Matthew Wilkinson (Waddesdon C of E, captain), 7 Austin Wallis (Reed’s), 8 Cameron King (St Edward’s, Oxford).
Replacements: 16 Charlie Fleckney (Moulton College), 17 Luke Spring (Brockenhurst College), 18 Isaac Thompson (Oakham), 19 Harry Wilkinson (Priestley College), 20 Edward Cox (Stamford), 21 Joshua Goodwin (Seaford College), 22 Luke Bouchier (Oaklands Academy), 23 Evan Davies (Prince Risborough).