A first-half try from captain Gus Jones set England Under-18 on the way to a tense 28-25 win against Wales Under-18 at Hugenote High School in Wellington. It was the start of the quadrangular which includes SA Schools and France Under-18.
Wales actually scored four tries to three but they missed five kicks at goal.
Second-half scores from wing Nathan Earle and No.8 Joel Conlon had given England a 28-8 lead, but three quick tries by Ryan Evans Wales and Dafydd Wyn Howells (two) for Wales ensured a tense finale.
A sad feature of the match was two first-half red cards, one for Ross Moriarty of England and the other for James Sheekey of Wales.
England beat their northern hemisphere rivals Wales 22-16 earlier in the season, and coach John Fletcher was just as delighted to get the win this time around.
Fletcher said: “We played well in the first half. We played the territory game and we were pleased to go in ahead at the break. Wales are a good side. They were dangerous all match and played some good rugby.
"The second half was tough, we came out and scored two good tries, but as the game progressed Wales pushed on and scored three in quick succession. They built momentum, their kicks came off, we lost some of our defensive shape and we had to hang on towards the end.
"We made a lot of substitutions which sometimes changes the pace of the game but ultimately we are delighted to get the win. There’s a lot to work on, but this is our first game together for a while.
"France are up next and we'll have to up our game for that one, they're a big, strong side but we have something to gauge ourselves on now and we're looking forward to the challenge."
Tries: Gus Jones, Nathan Earle, Joel Conlon
Cons: Billy Burns, Sam Olver
Pens: Burns 3
Tries: Dafydd Wyn Howells 3, Ryan Evans
Con: Ben Roberts
Pen: Jack Maynard
England Under-18: 15 Zach Kibirige, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Tom Stephenson, 12 Nick Carpenter, 11 Joshua Watkins, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Joel Conlon, 7 Gus Jones, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Harry Rudkin, 2 Harry Thacker,1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi.
Replacements 16 Alex Lundberg, 17 Sam James, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Jake Oldaker, 20 David Hughes, 21 Stephen Uren, 22 Ollie Claxton, 23 Sam Olver, 24 Nick Tompkins.
Wales Under-18: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Ryan Evans, 13 Steffan Hughes, 12 Ben Roberts, 11 Dafydd Wyn Howells, 10 Jack Maynard, 9 Connor Lloyd, 8 James Benjamin, 7 Joseph Tomlin-Reeves, 6 Sion Bennett, 5 James Sheekey, 4 Joshua Helps (captain), 3 Alex Jeffries, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Ball, 17 Nicky Thomas, 18 Callum Jay Lewis, 19 Lance Randell, 20 Benjamin Roach, 21 Joel Raikes, 22 Dion Jones, 23 Ashley Jay Evans.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Daniel Fortuin (South Africa), Linston Manuels (South Africa)