England Counties seal unbeaten tour
June 14, 2008

England RU Counties completed an unbeaten three-match tour of America and Canada when they beat a Canada Select XV 31-6 in storm-tossed Chatham-Kent, South Ontario tonight.

The Counties scored five tries without reply to take their three-match tally to 14, with one concession, the final game having added cachet in that weather forced a restriction to a 30-minutes each way game.

Since the Counties had arrived in the rural community 250 miles south of Toronto, the greatest fear among the enthusiasts who had worked so hard to stage their first international rugby match was that bad weather might intervene.

And on cue, the lightning storm struck just a few minutes before the scheduled kick-off, forcing an evacuation of the ground and a delay until the storm passed and it was officially declared safe to go ahead by the weather professionals.

The result was a truncated game played in heavy rain on a sodden pitch, but given the alternative of seeing months of hard work wasted, the fact that a game went ahead at all was a mighty and richly deserved relief for the good people of Chatham-Kent.

For the Counties, there were again anxious moments before the side came through in the second-half, with replacements again making a telling difference.

A pushover try by No 8 Mark Evans was all the Counties had to show for their first-half efforts, whereas Canadian fly-half Yoan Morlot put his side ahead with a penalty goal and a drop goal.

The arrival of replacement fly-half Gavin Beasley, however, made a significant impact on proceedings.

It was Evans who launched the Counties response when he broke cleanly from the base of a scrum and galloped 30 yards into space before his Moseley team-mate, centre Oliver Winter, appeared in support and had too much power and pace for the rest of the defence. Beasley then started to test the home side with some teasing kicks, producing one of pin-point accuracy that full-back Ben Coulbeck collected on the full to touch down.

Wingman Tom Jarvis then claimed the final two tries thanks to some good approach work by Beasley and the backs, with Beasley converting three to cement a fine kicking display.

"When the storm arrived as predicted, I did not think that we would get a game, but they are very precise in monitoring these situations and their optimism proved accurate, thank goodness," said Counties Manager Danny Hodgson: "I was so pleased for the lads because they have been a credit to themselves and their clubs throughout the trip and have worked hard with coaches Harvey Biljon and Dave Baldwin to bond themselves into a strong and effective unit.

"I was also relieved for the people from the community, who deserved to see their effort, enthusiasm and wonderful hospitality rewarded."

Said coach David Baldwin: "It was always clear that Gavin (Beasley) had more to offer than he showed in his first game in New York and tonight he gave a better exhibition of his true ability.

"Given the conditions and the calibre of the Canada side, which included four players from the Churchill Cup squad, I thought we did really well. They're a great bunch, they've worked hard to weld themselves into a team and they've also shown real spirit and determination when the pressure has come on.

"To score 14 tries in three games and concede only one is a testament to how hard they've worked both in matches and on the training pitch. This was a fitting end to another fine tour and I'm sure another batch of players will return to their clubs as better players."

England RU Counties XV: B Coulbeck (Cheshire & Manchester); T Jarvis (Gloucestershire/Stourbridge), O Winter (North Midlands/Moseley), S Rawlings (Staffordshire/Manchester), A Fenby (Blaydon/Northumberland); R Wainwright (Yorkshire/Manchester), N Jones (Warwickshire/Coventry); T Mathias (Devon/Plymouth), L Wordley (Staffordshire/Henley) capt, P Boulton (Warwickshire/Bedford Blues), S Pape (Somerset/Cornish All Blacks), M Owen (Cheshire/Manchester), D Hyde (Yorkshire/Otley), J Kellard (Essex/Blackheath), M Evans (North Midlands/Moseley).

Replacements used: J Doherty (Lancashire/Wharfedale), G Beasley(Northumberland/Tynedale), A Wilson (Cheshire/Manchester), C Whitehead (Warwickshire/Coventry), P Du Plessis (Lancashire/Sedgley Park), S Moss (Lancashire/Manchester), M Denbee (Somerset/Plymouth Albion). T: Jarvis 2, Evans, Winter, Coulbeck. C: Beasley 3.

Canada Select XV: C Hearne (St John's Bayman); J Campbell (Aurora Barbarians), T Wylsh (Newfoundland Rock), S Shortly (Aurora Barbarians), J Acker (Montreal Caribou); Y Morlot (Montreal), C Penney (St John's Dogs); D Strubel (Brantford Harlequins), S Chapheau (Montreal Wanderers), D Vararikas (Ste Anne de Bellevue), Scott Dunham (Balmy Beach),

O Atkinson (Moseley), Jebb Sinclair (Castaways Wanderers), C O'Toole (Castaway Wanderers), M Webb (Vancouver Rowing Club). P: Morlot. DG: Morlot

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