September 21 2014 Latest news:
Friday, April 25, 2014
Former Coopers pupil helps England Under-18s to crown
Upminster youngster George Perkins admitted it felt “amazing” to be crowned a European Under-18 champion with England at the weekend.
The former Coopers Coborn pupil had been forced to watch from the sidelines a year earlier and missed the first match of this year’s event against Portugal.
But he played in wins over Wales and Ireland as England defended their title in Poland and said: “It felt amazing. I went last year but didn’t play in the semi-final or final and it was a bit frustrating watching the boys win it.
“But I knew I had another year and to win the Europeans with your country is a great feeling.
“I missed the first game against Portugal as I was just coming back from an ankle sprain and was rested. It was a bit frustrating having to watch but good to see the boys perform and we put eight tries on them.”
That set up a semi-final meeting with Wales, which Perkins felt was England’s hardest of the tournament.
He added: “Conditions were poor and we got into a bit of an arm wrestle with them in the first half.
“It was probably our hardest game but we put in a solid performance. Wales made it really hard for us but we started to find our rhythm towards the end and played the better rugby on our terms, to come out on top.”
The final was only two minutes old when Harry Mallinder kicked a penalty to put England ahead.
Ireland replied with a try under the posts, but Taylor Prell touched down for a converted try to put England 10-7 up.
A close-range score put the Irish ahead once more, but Lucas Slowik intercepted to restore England’s advantage before the break and they never looked back.
Prell and Josh Bainbridge went over in the second half to seal a 30-14 win and Perkins added: “We put on a really good performance in perfect conditions.
“It was a really nice stadium and a fair crowd turned out. We played with a lot of intent, some good running rugby just how we wanted.
“I had a few opportunities in the first half and got into the game well, but we closed it up a bit in the second half and kept it in the forwards, playing to the corners to see out the game.”
Perkins, who began playing rugby at Upminster at a young age under the likes of Mark Jordan and Richard Morgan and named New Hall School coaches Mick Eyres, Adrian Sweeney and Ryan Briggs as further influences, is set to appear for England Under-19s against France at Broadstreet tomorrow (Saturday).
And the 18-year-old, who cites Jason Robinson, Ben Cohen and Josh Lewsey as his early rugby heroes, is looking forward to some rest, having recently signed a two-year contract with the Saracens academy.
“Watching the World Cup when I was younger was a huge inspiration and all the coaches I’ve had are a massive part of where I am now,” added Perkins.
“I’ve been at Saracens since I was 15 and have got a tough few years ahead of me now, but the aim is to play for them in the future.”