Rabbitohs under 20s centre Tevita Cottrell has scored a try, helping the Australian Schoolboys to a 22-18 win in their first Test match against the England Academy on their UK tour.
Ultimately, just two kicks separated England Academy and the Australian Schoolboys in the first match of the 2014 Autumn International Academy Series.
In a fiercely-fought and physical encounter, both sides recorded four tries, with a player from each team scoring a brace – Oliver Gildart crossed twice for the Academy whilst Latrell Mitchell grabbed two first-half scores for the Schoolboys – though it was the visitors, converting three tries to England’s one, who were ultimately victorious.
The schoolboys came out of the blocks aggressively and would have had the early score they were looking for through Mitchell had he not strayed into touch before crossing the line.
However, from their next attack, the visitors got what they were looking for. A neat move saw the Schoolboys work the ball left to Cottrell who, despite having a man available on the overlap, took on his marker and bundled his way over the whitewash.
They should have had another soon after when Ash Nisbet broke through the red-shirted England defence. He passed to Cottrell who again opted to take on his man despite the availability of an unmarked overlapping teammate, though this time England recovered.
After these early threats, England’s defence settled into a defensive solidity and were working their way into the match – looking dangerous 15 metres from the Schoolboys’ line – when Mitchell intercepted and showed immense speed and power to run in a near length-of-the-field try.
Mitchell scored his second right on half-time, using all of his strength to hold off numerous red shirts and stretch out an arm beyond the whitewash.
It followed what was England’s best spell of the match thus far – a dominant period spent deep in Australian territory which eventually saw Toby King, the Warrington Wolves centre, break through on the right flank, and offload to Oliver Davies to cross the line.
With the temperature hovering around freezing, England sparked into life early in the second half. Fullback Ash Golding saw a gap and scurried through the Schoolboys’ defence on halfway though 20 metres from the line, surrounded by backtracking green and gold shirts, his pass was intercepted.
However, just minutes later came a piece of luck to warm the hearts of the 1,583 fans inside the stadium as Gildart, from nothing, pounced on a loose ball inside the Australian ten to go over. It reawakened the aggressive Australians, who instantly looked to respond.
The tourists recorded their fourth try as Brock Lamb slid the ball through England’s defence for Tyrell Fuiaomano to acrobatically touch down, though England were not to surrender – from a penalty deep in Australian territory, stand-off Jordan Abdul saw a gap to power through for England’s third try of the afternoon.
It marked a period of dominance for England as through consecutive sets the Academy camped themselves ten metres from Australia’s line.
The pressure eventually told as Gildart went over for his second of the night, England’s fourth, and despite England’s change kicker Abdul converting for the first time with the game’s last kick, the Academy’s second-half fight-back fell short.
Australian Schoolboys 22 (Latrell Mitchell 2, Tevita Cottrell, Tyrell Fuiaomano tries; Brock Lamb 3 goals)
England Academy 18 (Oliver Gildart 2, Oliver Davies, Jordan Abdul tries; Jordan Abdul goal)