Quartet help England U20s to victory

tuima italy.jpg
Exeter Chiefs forward Rus Tuima looks to find a way through for England Under-20s in their Six Nations clash with Italy Under-20s on Friday night. Picture: www.jmpuk.com

By Mark Stevens

England Under-20s returned to winning ways in the Six Nations Championship securing a 35-10 bonus-point win over Italy at Bedford’s Goldington Road on Friday night.

The hosts, who included Exeter Chiefs quartet Alfie Petch, Rus Tuima, Sam Maunder and Richard Capstick in their match-day squad, held a narrow two-point lead at the break with tries from Tom Seabrook and Kieran Wilkinson, as well as a conversion, while Italy crossed through Federico Mori and Michele Peruzzo.

Second-half scores from Ollie Fox, Ollie Selightholme and 10 points from the boot of Josh Hodge secured victory.

It was their fourth match of the U20 Six Nations Championship, having lost to Ireland in their opening fixture they followed that up with victory against France before a defeat to Wales.

England will finish their campaign against Scotland at Northampton Saints’ Franklin’s Gardens.

Steve Bates’ side had the opening score in Bedford, with Wilkinson’s kick through the Italy defence latched onto by Seabrook who dotted down for the first try of the game.

Italy had a first score 12 minutes into the game with Mori catching a kick over the top of the England defence to fly over for 7-5.

The visitors were ahead with a fine individual try via Peruzzo who jinked his way over in the corner to give his side a three-point lead.

However, Wilkinson lit up Goldington Road with a superb score, breaking through midfield before weaving round the Italy full back to dive over.

Hodge slotted a penalty for 15-10 and England had a third try with scrum-half Ollie Fox sniping through which Hodge converted.

He sent over a penalty for 25-10 before Sleightholme finished off an impressive team try to secure the bonus point.

A late penalty from Manu Vunipola added gloss to England's victory.

"I thought it was a really strong performance in difficult conditions," said England U20 head coach Steve Bates. "To come in at 12-10 at half time was a significant factor in the game, scoring those two tries gave us a good foundation in the second half.

"In the second half I thought we created pressure and played high up the field but we didn't finish as well as we'd like. The players have made huge progress and it will be really nice to see them show the extent of their progress next week against Scotland where we will be looking to build a bit more continuity in the game."

England U20s: 15. Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons), 14. Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints), 13. Tom Seabrook (Gloucester Rugby), 12. Tom de Glanville (Bath Rugby), 11. Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish), 10. Kieran Wilkinson (Sale Sharks), 9. Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie), 1. Olly Adkins (Gloucester Rugby), 2. Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks), 3. Alfie Petch (Exeter Chiefs), 4. Joel Kpoku (Saracens), 5. James Scott (Worcester Warriors), 6. Tom Willis (Wasps), 7. Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester Rugby), 8. Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs).

Replacements: 16. Samson Ma'asi (Northampton Saints), 17. Kai Owen (Worcester Warriors), 18. Jack Bartlett (Gloucester Rugby), 19. Alex Coles (Northampton Saints), 20. Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs), 21. Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs), 22. Manu Vunipola (Saracens), 23. Jack Reeves (Gloucester Rugby).

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