Melling and Wray inspire England day

England Academy 22 Australian Schools 1

Dave Hadfield
Saturday 14 December 2002 01:00
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Not content with becoming the first northern hemisphere team to beat the Australians at this level in 30 years, England Academy are now the only side ever to take a series from them. Two tries apiece from the Wigan full-back Chris Melling and Wakefield's winger Matty Wray sealed a memorable victory at Headingley last night.

"We can now say that we are world champions at under-18 level and we have never been able to say that,'' said a proud England coach, Mike Gregory. "In five or six years' time we could be world champions at senior level.''

England struggled early on to recapture their compelling form of the first Test and they went behind when the Australian scrum-half, Steve Goodhew, dummied his way through after six minutes.

They could have been further in arrears before they turned the game around during an inspired seven-minute spell before half-time. Their outstanding loose-forward, Gareth Hock, was the catalyst with a break from the scrum base to set up Wray. His Wigan team-mate Melling then scored two in two minutes from fluent attacking rugby and added the goal to the second to give his side an eight-point lead at the break.

Melling's penalty edged England further ahead at the start of the second half, but the score that really put them on their way to victory came when the Australians lost the ball and Wray showed stunning pace to score in the corner.

Tom Learoyd forced his way over for Australia as they threatened a late fightback, but England kept their nerve and another penalty from Melling saw them to a result that gives British Rugby League great hope for the future.

ENGLAND ACADEMY: Melling (Wigan); Gardner (Leeds), Barker (Leeds), Bridge (Bradford), Wray (Wakefield); Mathers (Leeds), Robinson (Wigan); Bailey (Leeds), Beswick (Wigan), Barton (Wigan), Wilkin (St Helens), Langley (Bradford), Hock (Wigan). Substitutes used: Gallagher (Leeds), Johnson (St Helens), Saxton (Castleford), Horne (Hull).

AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLBOYS: Farrell; Ale, Ross, Cain, Pelo; Aitken, Goodhuw; Weyman, L'Estrange, Sims, Learoyd, Poore, Fulton. Substitutes used: Smith, Hoffman, Hannant, Lillyman.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

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