Smith, Badham, Johns, Machin, Swift, Cannon
Hall 3/5, Machin 1/1
In a superb advertisement for the game of rugby league, Wales Under 16's defeated the Republic of Ireland U17's in a fast flowing, hard hitting representative fixture.
The Welsh Dragonhearts came over to Ireland on the back of a victory between the two team a month earlier and they were determined to make it back to back victories.
The game started at a fast and frenetic pace and the hits came in early. Both sides tried to play structured rugby and early on the game was cagey, with neither team being dominant. The Welsh were, however, better at ball retention whereas the Irish were nervous and lost the ball too frequently in attacking situations.
When the Irish did get into try scoring positions the Welsh defence was outstanding, forcing the Irish to work around the ruck and nullifying them brilliantly. The Welsh made the first breakthrough when Will Smith was put in out wide.
They soon doubled their total with a try for Ewan Badham. A superb break by Finlay Swift, and some great advantage play by Referee Simon Owens for a flop on Swift, allowed the Welsh to first move the ball left and then back to the centre for Badham to crash over. The try was converted by Lewis Hall and the score remained at 10-0 to the Welsh, until half time.
In the second half the Irish came out strong and Josh Thelwis narrowed the game out wide. The Welsh responded quickly and Morgan Johns worked his way over after good work by Kienan McDade, who scooted at speed through a split defence and then threw an outstanding pass to the left wing, for McDade to charge down the flank and step Thewlis and score to the left of the posts. Soon after James Machin, who had directed the Welsh around the pitch superbly, showed for a pass out to the right before stepping back inwards to score an excellent individual try, which he then converted himself.
The Irish didn't give up and after a penalty gave them good field position they drove towards the line. At the play the ball, the Welsh defender was too quick for his own good and went over the top of Nathan Kiernan. Kiernan scrambled on the ground to get the ball over the line and this was converted by Thewlis.
As the game closed out the Welsh were edging the game in the hitups, their experience showing, and they then scored tries by Finn Swift (well deserved for his performance) and by Jake Cannon, both converted by Lewis Hall.
Both coaches were positive about both teams; James Seddon (Wales) praised the Irish for their efforts and stated they had stepped up even more from the first game, giving the Welsh a real challenge. Casey Dunne was wholesome in his praise for the Welsh, commenting that it was games like these that gave the Irish a yardstick in which to measure themselves.
Work now goes into organising the series for next year; both teams want to create an annual event to further their growth. As Dunne said during the after-match celebrations, the biggest winner here was the game of Rugby League; he wasn't wrong.
Josh Thewlis, Daniel Montayne, Matthew Jennings, Ethan Ryan, Josh McNamee, Sam Cullen, Callum O'Neill, Harry O'Reilly, Nathan Kiernan, Ronan Michael, James Mulvany, Cormac Murphy, Kevin Vargas, Aaron Kelly, Ethan Williams, Jordan Tapley, Eoin Creeby, Eoin Mahon, Shalun Carey
Harvey McDaid, Joel Davies, Billy Glover, Finlay Swift, James Machin, Matthew Morgan, Ieuan Badham, Kiernan McDaid, Ewan Badham, Jacob Lee, Teifion Thomas, Lewis Hall, Adam Young, Jake Cannon, Matthew Jones, Kyle Huish, Cameron Samuel, Morga Johns, William Lynch, Ewan Challenger