Scarlets full-back Harri Doel crossed for a second-half try, but it wasn’t enough to prevent England Under-19s securing a hard-fought 31-15 victory over Wales at the Brewery Field.
Wales acquitted themselves well against a well-drilled England side who had a sprinkling of under-20 internationals among their ranks.
A huge defensive shift in the first half ensured Wales restricted England to a 7-3 lead at the break. Scrum-half Jonny Law darted over in the fifth minute for a converted try but Josh Thomas’s penalty kept Wales in touch.
The home side took the lead when prop Luke Yendle powered over after a concerted period of pressure from Geraint Lewis’s men. Thomas’s conversion put his side 10-7 in front but a lack of concentration from the kick-off saw England charge downfield and score by the posts through Joe Howard.
Josh Hodge added the conversion and a penalty before Jack Clement touched down. Hodge put the icing on the cake when he glided over for a converted try five minutes from the end.
Wales had the final say when Doel scooted over in the corner but it was too little, too late for the home side.
Head coach Geraint Lewis was left to rue basic mistakes that proved costly.
“I thought there was a lot of effort and endeavor but maybe a little lack of accuracy cost us,” he said.
“We came back in it at one stage but a sloppy kick-off led them to getting a couple of scores ahead and we were always chasing the game thereafter.
“You can’t afford to switch off at any level and in fairness to England they were clinical, the opportunities they had, they took and we couldn’t quite match that level of accuracy.
“All the squad worked hard but little things at crucial times let us down – one of England’s strengths is the fact they always have size and power, but for long periods we didn’t really let that dictate our game.”
The Wales back row of Ioan R Davies, Gwilym Bradley and Morgan Strong proved stubborn roadblocks for England throughout with their staunch defence but the inability to seize opportunities when they presented themselves let England off the hook.
“We were only down 7-3 at half-time but we stuck in there and I thought at times in the first half we showed some promise, but we couldn’t get a sustained level of quality in our play and at times we lacked a bit of variety but that will come,” added Lewis.
“But overall, from the two games against Japan High Schools and the game against England we have learnt a lot from this series of games and that’s what it is all about really. I think a number of boys showed their abilities over a three-week period and they, if not this year, will next year become important players at under-20 level.”
There were four Scarlets in the Wales starting XV - Doel, skipper Joe Roberts, fellow centre Osian Knott and scrum-half Harry Land, while Dom Booth, Adam Thomas and Dean James were named among the replacements.
Wales U19: Tries – Luke Yendle, Harri Doel; Pen – Josh Thomas
England U19: Tries – Jonny Law, Joe Howard, Jack Clement, Josh Hodge; Cons – Hodge (4); Pen – Hodge