Rugby League: Britain show off strength in depth

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Britain Under-19. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

France Under-19. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

GREAT BRITAIN'S Under- 19s showed the depth of talent emerging through the Academy competition with an accomplished win over their French counterparts last night, writes Dave Hadfield.

The recent tradition of entertaining and often evenly contested matches between the two countries at this level was maintained in the first half at the Ryedale Stadium in York, even though the bigger, more powerful British side took an early lead.

The ability to keep the ball alive on the last tackle allowed Michael Wainwright to get his pass away to the Castleford full-back, Jason Flowers, after seven minutes.

France, with a strong wind behind them, had their full share of play, which brought them a penalty goal from Frederick Banquet after Simon Baldwin was caught offside and would have brought a try if Moussa Loukili had not knocked on Ludovic Daure's difficult pass with the try-line beckoning.

Great Britain made the most of that escape, their scrum-half, John McAtee, lofting a pass on to the wing for Jon Roper to claim their second try.

Only 23 seconds into the second half the chunky winger, Roper, went 60 yards for his second try, with his Warrington team-mate, Iestyn Harris, landing his first goal.

The French began to look as though they had shot their bolt when Kieran Allen wrestled his way through some weak tackling for the fourth British try.

His half-back partner, McAtee, soon followed suit, darting over after good work by Paul Stevens, but France's best player, Loukili, hit back with a long-range try from the base of the scrum.

GREAT BRITAIN UNDER-19: Flowers (Castleford); Roper (Warrington), Flynn (Wakefield), Stevens (Wigan, capt), Harris (Warrington); Allen (Wakefield), McAtee (St Helens); Sykes (Castleford), Rowley (Leigh), Pearson (Leeds), Haughton (Wigan), Baldwin (Leigh), Wainwright (Warrington). Replacements: Vassilakopoulos (Leeds) for Baldwin, 62; Cochrane (Hull) for Horton, 71.

FRANCE UNDER-19: Loukili (Lezignan); Fauvel (Villeneuve), Daure (Catalan), Banquet (Carcassonne), Verges (St Esteve); Cazamajou (Tonneins), Devecchi (Villeneuve); Dega (Villefranche, capt), Tena (Catalan), El Kalouki (Toulouse), Gregoire (Pia), Tallek (Lezignan), Cambres (Catalan). Replacements: Le Goff (St Gaudens) for Gregoire, 41; Marchet (Villeneuve) for Verges, 72.

Referee: C Alba (France).