THE England Youth side fell to an agonizing 19-18 defeat against their French counterparts when the sides met in the first of a two test series at Bradford’s Grattan Stadium.
After seeing England open up a 12 point lead within the first 15 minutes, the 500 strong crowd at Odsal saw the French side complete a spirited comeback when scrum-half Theo Fages landed a last-gasp drop-goal to seal victory.
England started brightly with scores from winger Aaron Lewezenko and scrum-half George Williams opening up an early 12-0 with Shaw Cross Sharks’ Curtis Naughton adding the extras.
However, France were quick to reduce the deficit and two unconverted tries from full-back Emine Bouzada and stand-off Arthur Gonzalez bought the game back to 12-8 at half-time.
The French wasted no time in levelling the match after the break when a perfectly weighted cross-field kick was gathered by winger Jalentin Chanet. Chanet crossed for his second minutes later to give France an 18-12 lead.
Ryan Hampshire levelled for England after he wriggled his way through two defenders with 10 minutes remaining.
England came close to scoring through centre Liam Galbraith and winger Parry in the closing stages but neither could grasp the opportunity and the deciding blow was dealt in the dying seconds as scrum-half Fages slotted an well struck 30 metre drop-goal to condemn England to the narrowest of defeats.
England Youth: Curtis Naughton (Bradford Bulls / Shaw Cross Sharks); Arron Lewczenko (Wigan Warriors / Orrell St James); Josh Casey (Bradford Bulls / Siddall); Lewis Galbraith (St Helens / Saddleworth Rangers); Ben Parry (St Helens / Chorley Panthers); Ryan Hampshire (Wigan Warriors / Normanton); George Williams (Wigan Warriors / Ince Rose Bridge); Michael Learmonth (Leeds Rhinos / Hunslet Warriors); Ryan Maneely (Warrington Wolves / Saddleworth Rgrs); Greg Richards (St Helens / Chorley Panthers); Jordan Baldwinson (Leeds Rhinos / Hunslet Wrs); Alex Mellor (Bradford Bulls / Kings Cross Park); William Milner (Warrington Wolves / Kings Cross Park); Scott Lee (Leeds Rhinos / Shaw Cross Sharks); Andre Savelio (St Helens / Latchford Alban); Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos / Hunslet Warriors); Bradley Day (Leeds Rhinos / Hunslet Warriors).