English school rugby team stands tall
THEY may have been dwarfed in stature, but for the touring John Hampden Grammar School rugby side, they could stand tall as they held Grafton High to a 10-all draw.
The match was the third in Australia for the English schoolboy side, of mostly 16-year-olds who immediately felt the impact of playing against the older, bigger local side.
The Grafton High side, who had players brought in from other Clarence Valley schools scored two early tries to Adrian Battaglini to take a 10-0 advantage.
Playing a structured positional game, the visitors managed to steal a try back, and went to the half 10-7 down.
A tight tussle for position kept much of the second half scoreless, until a period of ill-discipline from Grafton High with 10 minutes remaining gifted the visitors field position, and an ensuing penalty tied the scores up at 10-a-piece.
The touring side then controlled possession and play, but could not break the Grafton line, leaving scores tied as time was called.
John Hampden Grammar tour coach James Robinson said the match was the best the schoolboys had played so far, and said it was a credit to them to match the larger Grafton side.
"We really stuck to our patterns and our plays today, and in the end we really started to dominate the play," Robinson said.
"We were probably unlucky not to come away with a win, but against such a large and physical side we're definitely happy with the result."
Tour captain Will Somes said the experience of playing hard physical games was important in improving their overall game.
"The physicality of the game is something different," Somes said.
"Even the backs here are quite large, which isn't something we're used to."
The tourists, who previously played at Grafton High two years ago as part of their pre-season training travel to Brisbane to take on All Saints Catholic College next week.