Double delight against Ireland

Words: Andy Morgan. Pics: Mark Stringer/Siwan Williams

Wales under 16s and 18s both enjoyed success against their Irish counterparts in an international double-header at Rhyl on Saturday.

WRL president Mike Nicholas MBE witnessed both games. He said: “The teams performed great pace and high levels of physicality synonymous with pure rugby league, without any elements of rugby union that has often been present in the past. It was both cohesive and structured and credit must go to head coaches Paul Berry, Wayne Ponting and their coaching staff.

“It augurs well for the future and if many of these players continue to develop like they have, I can see a career in the pro-game beckoning for them and hopefully remaining with Wales for a career in international rugby league.

“It was great to see one of the U16 players Finlay Walker paying his respects at the statue unveiling in Cardiff Bay of three of our all time great players, Gus Risman ,Billy Boston and Clive Sullivan last Wednesday. Those players were pioneers of our great game and those who drank from the well remember those who helped dig it.”

Wales under 16s ran in twelve tries in an impressive attacking display against Ireland in Rhyl, winning 62-16.

Full-back, Samuel Dickenson, scored four first-half tries, and there were braces for Henry Parker and Harri Jacob. Additional tries came from Jake Nottingham, Morgan Marozzelli, Kai Sengul and Iestyn Jones, with stand-off, Junior Westwood, kicking seven goals.

A valiant Irish effort was rewarded with tries for Daniel Coop, Alex Gorman and Elliot Fox.

Parker opened the scoring after just six minutes, with a rampaging 60 metre run from Jacob at the resultant restart providing the opportunity for Dickenson to get his first. Gorman responded for the Irish, but it was one-way traffic from that point on in the first half.

Dickenson made his second try all on his own, breaking the defensive live to race 70 metres, before turning creator for Sengul with a fine cut-out pass. Nottingham added to the lead minutes later, before Dickenson showed more of his talent with a series of dummies that created the opening for his hat-trick score. 

Welsh skipper, Nottingham, looked dangerous every time he got his hands on the ball, and it was he who created another opportunity for Dickenson to get his fourth before the interval, as the hosts led 38-4 at the break.

Jacob opened the scoring in the second half, but Ireland responded, first through Fox and then Coop, who gathered a fine kick to the right wing to get over the whitewash. This quick-fire brace stung the Welsh back into life, with Parker crossing for his second before Nottingham again wreaked havoc to setup Jacob for his second.

Iestyn Jones added the eleventh try of the day, before the impressive Westwood and Parker linked up to give Marozzelli the opportunity to complete the scoring.

Wales: Samuel Dickenson (Woolston Rovers), Joseph Johnson (Cardiff Blue Dragons), Morgan Marozzelli (Aber Valley Wolves), Jake Nottingham (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Kai Sengul (Aber Valley Wolves), Junior Westwood (Crosfields), Henry Parker (Aber Valley Wolves), Harri Jacob (Torfaen Tigers), Finlay Walker (Pontyclun Kings), Nathan Davies (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Kaden Johnson (Crosfields), Charlie Bennett (Torfaen Tigers), Kade Woodward (Tofaen Tigers). Interchanges: Leo Bonham (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Jacob Jones (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Iestyn Jones (Torfaen Tigers), Jake Sheppard (Torfaen Tigers), Jacob Morris (Cynon Valley Cavaliers), Alex Green (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Tobie Cribb (Bridgend Blue Bulls).

Wales U18s claimed a 44-28 victory over Ireland in a hard-fought encounter that hung in the balance until the final ten minutes.

Hooker Jayden Grey scored two of the Wales tries, with Oliver Ford, Donovan Rankin, Dylan Morgan, Carter Barnes, Jamie Jenkins and Mason Apsee all getting scores for the hosts. Stand-off Llewellyn Hawkes kicked five goals in a player of the match performance.

Ireland showed quality of their own, with winger Matt Cahill grabbing two tries, with further scores for Conor Coleman, Adam Quinn and Lewis Wing.

It was the perfect start for Wales with Ireland failing to gather the kick-off, providing an immediate opportunity to attack the Irish line – an opportunity exploited by Barnes to open the scoring within the first minute.

Undeterred by this early setback, Ireland scored twice through Quinn and then Wing to take the lead. A lively first-half continued, with Morgan, Rankin and Apsee crossing for Wales in a seven minute spell to race into a 22-4 lead.  Once again, Ireland showed their resolve to get back into the match before the break, with Cahill and Coleman tries, plus two goals, leaving the game in the balance at 22-16.

A lively opening twelve minutes of the second half saw the impressive Grey grab his brace – with Ireland striking back after each score through Quinn and then Wing to leave the game evenly poised going into the final quarter, with Wales leading 34-28.

But Jenkins’ try eight minutes from the end, converted by Apsee, put the game beyond Ireland’s reach, and Oliver Ford’s last-minute score extended the winning margin.

Wales: Rhys Thomas (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Ethan Stebbings (Aber Valley Wolves), Oliver Ford (Aber Valley Wolves), Donovan Rankin (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Dylan Morgan (Cardiff Blue Dragons), Llewellyn Hawkes (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Dafydd Morgan (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Alex Banks (Torfaen Tigers), Jayden Grey (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Calum Jones (Aber Valley Wolves), Carter Barnes (Torfaen Tigers), Jamie Jenkins (Cardiff Blue Dragons), George Birch (London Broncos). Interchanges: Mason Apsee (Aber Valley Wolves), Connor Lacey (Cynon Valley Cavaliers), Lewis Jones (Aber Valley Wolves), Rhys Davies (Aber Valley Wolves), Cole Macdonald (Aber Valley Wolves), Finlay Northrop (Bridgend Blue Bulls).