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Home > News > Niagara roars message to England Counties XV
Your News Niagara roars message to England Counties XV

The England RU Counties XV picked an appropriate venue for a days break from their preparations for the final match of their tour to the USA and Canada Niagara Falls.

The all-pervading roar and the spray which reaches their hotel window should act as a permanent reminder of the cascade of penalties they conceded in their 31-16 win over a USA Select XV on Monday, a near torrent which at one stage in the first-half saw them concede eight penalties in succession and have flanker Mike Denbee and prop John Williams sent to the sin-bin.

Playing 20 minutes with only 14 men against a USA side determined to avenge a defeat by the tourists four days earlier was a handicap the Counties could ill-afford and they were forced to resort to a route one forward-based approach to rescue the situation when they fell behind 16-10 in the second-half.

The issue becomes especially important because Chris Henshall, the referee, will also be handling their game against a Canada Select XV in Chatham, Kent on Friday (June 13) which will wrap up their 14-day trip.

Captain Dan Hyde credited the US team with upping their game significantly after the opening defeat, but recognises the need to address the penalty situation.

We thought after our first win that they would come back like a wounded animal and that was how it happened, said the Otley flanker: They showed a lot of desire and commitment and the outcome was on a knife edge for the majority of the game.

There were a lot of factors that we couldnt control in terms of what were used to, but we showed a lot of belief in ourselves and showed good composure for a side with relatively little time together.

But now we need to cut out the silly errors and keep the penalty count down. We need to look at what were doing in the contact areas where we were penalised quite a lot, although again credit must go to the USA team for their commitment in putting us in those situations.

The contact area is one which is always interpreted differently by different referees, so I think the players will be sitting down with the coaches to identify what will and will not be allowed. We need to cut out what isnt allowed because were piggy-backing the opposition around the pitch, giving them field position and possession and making the job a whole lot harder for ourselves.

From a personal perspective, I was really delighted and honoured to captain a national team. It was just a bit frustrating about how it went, but we managed the win, which is the most important thing.

Coach Harvey Biljon from Blackheath also pinpointed the need to sort out the penalty count. First of all we need to address the tackle area, he says: The tackler needs to roll away from the tackle area very quickly and we need to be very disciplined in making sure we stay behind the back foot.

We also need to continue playing in the way weve been training when the going gets tough and not revert to what we do in club rugby. There is the tendency to go back to what they know and what they can rely on, but I think we missed a couple of chances by going down that route.

At times players became isolated because some players went back to their club approach and others didnt, which meant we had players isolated and vulnerable.

Its what I see as the second-game of tour syndrome which weve experienced before. Players are caught in the awkward position of wanting to stand out and win selection for the final game, but at the same time be part of a coordinated team effort.

They find themselves preparing for the game with half an eye on how well the players they are competing with have played in the opening match and you get an eagerness which leaves players not fulfilling the jobs expected of them in their keenness to do well.

On the credit side, weve scored tries by attacking from first-phase ball and were making defences feel uncomfortable with the way were setting up in unconventional patterns that people arent familiar with.

The Counties XV have an overnight stay at the falls before going on to their next base at Chatham tomorrow (Wednesday, June 11).

The squad is:

Backs: Gavin Beasley(Northumberland/Tynedale), Oliver Brennand (Lancashire/Fylde), Benjamin Coulbeck (Cheshire/Manchester), James Doherty (Lancashire/Wharfedale), Jason Duffy (Lancashire/Waterloo), Thomas Jarvis (Gloucestershire/Stourbridge), Matthew Jess (Cornwall/Launceston), Nathan Jones (Warwickshire/Coventry), Scott Rawlings (Staffordshire/Manchester), Richard Wainwright (Yorkshire/Manchester), Andre Wilson (Cheshire/Manchester), Oliver Winter (North Midlands/Moseley).

Forwards: Philip Boulton (Warwickshire/Bedford Blues), Daniel Collier (Middlesex/London Welsh), Stephen Pape (Somerset/Cornish All Blacks), Michael Denbee (Somerset/Plymouth Albion), Mark Evans (North Midlands/Moseley), Daniel Hyde (Yorkshire/Otley), James Kellard (Essex/Blackheath), Timothy Mathias (Devon/Plymouth), Sebastian Moss (Lancashire/Manchester), Matthew Owen (Cheshire/Manchester), Petrus du Plessis (Lancashire/Sedgley Park), Christopher Whitehead (Warwickshire/Coventry), Jonathan Williams (Northumberland/Tynedale), Liam Wordley (Staffordshire/Henley).

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