England Counties complete USA double
June 10, 2008

The England Counties XV successfully completed the second leg of their three-match tour to North America and Canada when they gained their second win in four days over a USA Select XV in New York, 31-16, on Monday.

But if England Counties are to fulfil their ambition of finishing their tour unbeaten, they will need a sharp improvement in their final game against a Canada Select XV on Friday (June 13) in Chatham-Kent, Ontario.

The Counties were hoping after their initial success that even with 11 changes to their line-up, with more care and application they could produce a more impressive victory. Instead it was the host side that found a significant improvement, with all the elementary blemishes that plagued them in the opening game being transferred to the tourists.

The Counties led 10-9 at half-time despite struggling to make an impact against a side that were clearly determined to avenge the earlier defeat, scrum-half James Doherty scoring after a fine burst by wingman Tom Jarvis and fly-half Richard Wainwright landing the conversion and a penalty as centre Mike Graham keeping his side in contention with three penalties.

The Counties sought to shift the focus of their effort in the second-half and take the home side on up front, a policy which was to play dividends eventually, but not before the USA delivered a scare with a fine solo try by wingman James Gillenwater, a real flier on the left flank who left a handful of players in his wake in a blistering 65-yard burst for a try that Graham converted.

Trailing 16-10, the Counties again found, as they had in the opening game, that the cavalry from the replacements bench served them handsomely.

They flexed their muscles up front and regained the lead on 64 minutes when lock Stephen Pape was driven over from a lineout maul, Wainwright converting from wide out. Wainwright then nipped smartly through an opening from close range after more forward bludgeoning and replacement hooker Liam Wordley wrapped up the try scoring with the fourth from another driving maul, Wainwright converting all three for a 16-point tally.

"It was a sporadic performance," said coach Dave Baldwin: "We played well in patches but didn't string enough passages of play together. I was pleased that having gone behind we stuck in there to claim a win that turned out to be quite comfortable in the end.

"We're not helping ourselves by making a lot of mistakes and giving penalties away by not adjusting to the referee quickly enough. We're putting ourselves under pressure with bad decision making and silly penalties.

"It was a solid performance rather than a crisp and classic affair. When we got back into the lead we started throwing the ball about again, which seemed the reverse of what we should have been doing. That's a bit of a worry."

The Counties XV can look back in a successful first ever trip to the USA and travel to Canada on Tuesday with plenty of remedial work to deal with.

USA Eagles A: J Naqica (San Francisco Golden Gate); S Rafferty (NYAC), N Rogers (Life University), M Graham (Glendale), J Gillenwater (Belmont Shore); S Peterson (Chicago Lions), T Usasz (Nottingham); M Kernen (Belmont Shore), P Thiel (Olympic Club), W Johnson (Olympic Club), D La Prevotte (San FranciscoGolden Gate), J Wolfgramm (Belmont Shore), J Stencel (Carlotte), P Dahl (Belmont Shore), R Pretorius (Cal-Berkeley) capt.

T: Gillenwater. C: Graham. P: Graham 3.

England Counties XV: B Coulbeck (Cheshire/Manchester); T Jarvis (North Midlands/Stourbridge), A Wilson (Cheshire/Manchester), J Duffy (Lancashire/Waterloo), O Brennand (Lancashire/Fylde); R Wainwright (Yorkshire/Manchester), J Doherty (Lancashire/Wharfedale); J Williams (Northumberland/Tynedale), P Du Plessis (Lancashire/Sedgley Park), S Pape (Somerset/Cornish All Blacks), D Collier (Middlesex/London Welsh), D Hyde (Yorkshire/Otley, capt), M Denbee (Somerset/Plymouth Albion), S Moss (Lancashire/Manchester).

Replacements used: L Wordley (Staffordshire/Henley), P Boulton (Warwickshire/Bedford Blues),M Owen (Cheshire/Manchester), J Kellard (Essex/Blackheath), N Jones (Warwickshire/Coventry), G Beasley(Northumberland/Tynedale), O Winter (North Midlands/Moseley).

T: Doherty, Pape, Wainwright, Wordley. C: Wainwright 4. P: Wainwright.

Referee: C Henshall (USA).

© Scrum.com

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