The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Their players may all come from Super League clubs' youth sides but the 36-6 scoreline flattered England as they beat Wales in front over 300 fans in the under-16 international at Sardis Road on Good Friday. Wales recovered well from a shaky start and were desperately unlucky not to get closer to the visitors' score in the second half, having three tries disallowed in the last quarter of the game. The hosts were caught out twice in the first ten minutes with two virtually similar tries, both set-up by excellent passing moves by the English back-line and both run in by Hull's Joe Westerman in the right hand corner as he took advantage of gaping holes in the Welsh defence. Following a period of Welsh pressure, England increased their lead to 20-0. First, Castleford's David Leeke finished off another fine set of passes to ground in the corner before Leeds' Mathew Fox's 20-metre run virtually finished off the in-experience Welsh side.
However Wales were not going to give up without a fight and scored their only try of the match just before half-time after Garyn Lucas, one of seven local lads in the Welsh side, forced his way through three English defenders to place under the sticks. Ryan Miles converted. The margin was back to 20 points just six minutes into the second half. Bradford's Jason Crookes was held up over the line and from the resulting play-the-ball, Shane Grady ran the ball in underneath the posts, converting his own try. Wales fought a lot harder in the second half and it was only thanks to the strong England defence coupled with some debatable refereeing decisions that they didn't have any more points of the board. While both sides were strong on the attack, Wales inexperience showed more in their defensive line as proved when St Helens' Gary Wheeler managed to pounce on his own kick to extend England's lead to 32-6. Wales had the best of last ten minutes but were unable to get back on the scoreboard. Valley Cougars' Matt Saunders had a try ruled out for a forward pass, Sam Jones was also unlucky not to have points on the board after he was allegedly held up over line, while his Monmouth team-mate, Sam McCoy had a try controversially ruled out following a knock-on. Bradford's Joe Swaine completed the scoring for England in the final minute to secure the visitors' well-deserved win. Wales' next match is at Abercynon on Thursday 31 March when they play host to the France under-16 side. Wales: Anthony James (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Jason Davies (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Chris Brett (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Tom Griffin (Valley Cougars), Sam McCoy (Monmouth Schools), Ryan Miles (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Karl Davies (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Kris Dacey (Valley Cougars), Garyn Lucas (Valley Cougars), Steffan Jones (Swansea Valley Miners), Aaron Bray (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Rowan Davies (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Adam Wright (Swansea Valley Miners). Subs: Sam Jones (Monmouth Schools), Scott Collins (Valley Cougars), Jake Thomas (Valley Cougars), Craig Lewis (Valley Cougars), Matt Saunders (Valley Cougars). Tries: Lucas (29). Goals: Miles 1/1 England: Shane Grady (Widnes Vikings), Richard Owen (Castleford Tigers), Mathew Fox (Leeds Rhinos), Richard Lopag (Huddersfield Giants), David Leeke (Castleford Tigers), Gary Wheeler (St Helens), Richard Myler (Widnes Vikings), Leigh Coe (Bradford Bulls), Keale Carlile (Bradford Bulls), Gareth Frodsham (St Helens), Dominic Dee (Bradford Bulls), Joe Westerman (Hull FC), Jason Crookes (Bradford Bulls). Subs: Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors), Steve Crossley (Bradford Bulls), Joe Swaine (Bradford Bulls), Brett Robinson (Wigan Warriors), Mike Lawrence (Huddersfield Giants). Tries: Westerman (7, 10), Leeke (17), Fox (20), Grady (36), Wheeler (49), Swaine (60). Goals: Grady 4/7 Half-time: 6-20 Referee: Colin Neale (Rhondda). Men of the Match: Wales - Garyn Lucas. England - Gary Wheeler. Gamestar: Gary Wheeler scored the try of the match sealing an excellent performance from the St Helens youngster. Gamebreaker: England stamped their authority on the game with four tries in the first 20 minutes. NB: The match was played in 30-minute halves.
Photo courtesy of the official WRL photographer, Ian Lovell