Quartet help England to victory
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs Academy youngster Matt Bolwell claim one of England Under-18's three tries as they were crowned European champions for the second year in a row after beating France 27-22 in front of 15,000 fans at the Stade de Alpes in Grenoble.
The talented Cornish flanker got on the scoresheet alongside centre Nick Tompkins and prop Paul Hill as England secured the Justin Bridou Trophy with a powerful display that also brought about 12 points for fly-half Josh Sharp.
Coming on the back of a hugely successful Six Nations campaign for the Under-20s, the Chiefs were again well represented in the Under-18 ranks with Bolwell joined in the victorious ranks by club-mates Luke Chapman, Stuart Townsend and Charlie Hewitt.
Under-18s head coach John Fletcher said: “I’m delighted for all of the guys, it was a great game and both sides played their part – I thought we played well for large periods and deserved to get the win. Full respect to France though, they had the crowd behind them and pushed us all the way.”
Sadly, England's Under-16s - with Exeter youngsters Jack Maunder and Jack Stanley in their ranks - were unable to claim victory in their 24-20 loss to Italy at Lichfield’s Cooke Fields ground.
England appeared to have laid the foundations for victory when they eased into a 10-0 lead midway through the first half but fly-half Leonardo Mantelli took control of the game for Italy and an opportunist try from right wing Luca Sperandio on the stroke of half-time knocked England out of their stride.
The home side regained the lead when scrum-half Jack Maunder burrowed over early in the second half, but they failed to make use of a strong downfield wind and a try from hooker Edoardo Ferraro and two penalties from Mantelli clinched victory for the jubilant Italians.