England Universities were hosted by HM Prison Service Rugby League for a friendly at Sharlston Rovers, a final friendly to give Head Coach Kevin Deighton a final chance to run his eye over his squad before he selects his final 20 players for the Student Rugby League Four Nations which takes place next month in Pontrypridd, Wales.
It took just two minutes for Charlie McCurrie to open the students’ account, backing up Matty Rudd’s break to go over under the posts, with Jack Mallinson adding the easy shot on goal. Luke Phoenix out jumped his opposite number to score out wide from Jack Mallinson’s cross field kick shortly afterwards, with Mallinson again on target with the boot.
It was one-way traffic as Leon Stewart powered through the left edge to add a further score from forty metres out, Mallinson adding the extras, before Jack Cherry found space from a double dummy by Stewart to beat the corner flag on the half hour mark, this time Mallinson’s kick not having the distance.
Scrambling defence from the Prison Service, especially by Robinson and Reed in the middle and loose forward Sam Roe, kept England at bay until half time.
The second half started with the home side throwing everything they had at the students, who showed their usual tenacity to defend and repelling the onslaught. The tide turned with Phoenix’s fancy footwork seeing him break free and scorch 60 metres downfield to go under the sticks, making Mallinson’s conversion a formality and, not to be out done Cherry notched up his own brace two minutes later on the opposite flank, Mallinson again on target.
Joe Wardill’s introduction at full back from the bench saw the him score on his first touch of the ball as he scythed through to complete a set move, giving Mallinson another easy kick on the hour mark. Michael Holden completed a cross-field move started by Stewart’s break shortly afterwards, with Mallinson unable to find his mark from the touchline and England looked untouchable with a third score in 6 minutes as Cherry went in again off Stewart’s quick pass, with Mallinson kicking to reach the half-century.
Holden added his second as he intercepted to go full length, before Rudd found the line from close range, both improved by Mallinson, but the final word went to the Prison Service who put in an 80 minute performance and were rewarded with a consolation as Tom Alexander dropped onto an inch perfect grubber kick under the posts, giving Sam Roe an easy shot on goal and ensuring that the home side avoided the whitewash.
The Student Rugby League Four Nations kicks off on Sunday 9th July, when England face Ireland in the opening game. The England 20-man squad for the tournament will be announced in due course.
HM Prison Service 6
Wednesday 7th June, 7pm
Sharlston Rovers ARLFC
HM Prison Service
Matthews, Lawton, Wilson, Ramsden, Tilley, Alexander, Agar, Robinson, Hiscock, Reed, Wvins, Glassell, Roe. Interchanges: Beckwith, Cole, Taylor, Stevenson, Archer, Platt
Tries: Tom Alexander (79) Goals: Sam Roe 1/1
Michael Holden, Luke Phoenix, Dan White, Leon Stewart, Jack Cherry, Matty Rudd, Jack Malinson, Chris Gale, Callum Scott, Aaron Powell, Charlie McCurrie, Isaac Coleman, Jake Holden. Interchanges: Delaine Bedward-Gittens, Nathan Rushworth, Ed Brown, Alfie Crawford, Jordan Bull, Joe Wardill.
Tries: Charlie McCurrie (2), Luke Phoenix (10, 53), Leon Stewart (15), Jack Cherry (29, 55, 65), Joe Wardill (59), Michael Holden (63, 69), Matty Rudd (75)
Goals: Jack Mallinson 9/11
Referee: Joe Stearne