Havering boys help England to silver
PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 August 2016
Trio impress at European Junior Touch Rugby Championships
Upminster youngsters Bradley Murphy, Evan Michaels and Jack Hawken helped England win silver at the European Junior Touch Rugby Championships.
The trio represented the under-15 team in the Netherlands, where they played Europe’s best national sides at the highly established Papendal National Sports Centre, where Dutch Olympians trained for the Rio Games.
The amazing facilities provided the junior teams with great experiences, giving an insight of what it was like to be a professional athlete.
Murphy was made captain for the event, with fellow Coopers pupil Michaels and Hall Mead’s Hawken also playing vital roles, and England began with an impressive 17-2 win over Germany, with Murphy and Michaels scoring early tries.
England followed that with a 7-4 win against a determined Irish side in a very physical match to top the table at the end of the first day ahead of favourites Wales.
And they claimed a vital 4-2 victory over a well-structured French side, in front of a huge crowd of supporters who created a lively atmosphere, in their next outing.
After a two-hour break, they took on a Middle East team in a must-win game, with both sides scoring three tries early on.
Michael made a crucial diving touch on the stroke of half time to keep England ahead and they stepped up to dominate the second period and win 9-6.
Scotland raced into a 2-0 lead in the next match and, although England hit back, held a 4-2 advantage at half time.
But the young Lions dug deep to score a last-minute try and snatch a 6-6 draw, with five tries also being disallowed during the match.
England then faced a European Select side and stormed into a 5-1 lead, with Murphy and Michaels among the scorers once again.
And Hawken added a brace in the second half as England ran out 9-1 winners to secure their place in the final with one group game still to play.
The first five minutes of their meeting with Wales remained scoreless, but England then found themselves under pressure and suffered their first defeat of the tournament, going down 7-1.
But they showed no sign of ill effects from that loss when the two sides met again in the final, with the first half ending level at 3-3.
Wales took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half, though, and their experience and skill proved decisive as they claimed a somewhat flattering 9-3 victory.
Although disappointed with the result, England congratulated their rivals as the teams came together for one big presentation and swapped shirts as a mark of respect.
Michaels claimed England’s Most Valuable Player award during the ceremony, while Murphy collected the runners-up trophy along with co-captain Emma Oliver.
Coach Ben Powell said: “It was an outstanding week of touch rugby from a team well beyond their years. I am so proud of each and every one of them.”