Prior to the final round of matches in the U19 European Championships, all eight nations involved have been at an embassy reception in Belgrade and spent time together in the lead up to finals day tomorrow (Saturday).
Having beaten Wales 48-4 in the semis, England will take on France, who triumphed 38-6 over Scotland, in the Final. Full back Curtis Teare continued his good form for England with a hat trick, Ben Selby posting a brace for the English as the Welsh were swept aside.
“I’m very proud of my boys. They put in a massive effort against a very good Welsh team and we’re very happy with the performance and the result,” said Lions head coach Allan Coleman. “We have the utmost respect for the French and will need to improve further and be at our best to beat them.”
Hooker Thomas Lagan scored a try double for the French in their win over the Bravehearts, Thimothe Bertrand with 12 points from a touchdown and four perfect conversions. France General Manager Florian Chautard noted: “We played well and we did a lot of things right. We still think we can score more points, so we’ll take this forward to the final.”
France have been in the two previous European youth level deciders, staging the inaugural tournament in 2006, the hosts winning the final in Barcares near Perpignan by sweeping aside England with a team that contained current Catalans Dragons, Mickael Simon and Vincent Duport.
Two years later, in Prague, and with the age level U18, Wales were triumphant, defeating France 38-24; Rhys Williams and Gil Dudson in the Dragons’ victorious line up.
Wales will play Scotland in the third place game, their head coach Ant Walker disappointed not to be in the main match. “We tried hard but were outplayed in every aspect of the game. Full credit to England, they did a professional job but we want to finish on a high.”
For Scotland boss Danny Addy: “After the semi we were all gutted. The result was our own doing as everything France did we’d seen before. It’s been a great trip and we want to round it off properly.”
In the ranking games, Ireland – with two try Ryan Curran the hero – beat Italy 26-10 and will now face hosts Serbia. Head coach Wayne Kelly commented: “It’s great to get our first-ever win at U19 level and it’s important for the development work going on in Ireland. It was an emotional occasion and I’m very proud of the boys and the way they responded to defeat by Scotland first up. We played some debutants and have great strength in depth ahead of the Serbia game; fifth spot is now the realistic target for this group,”
Serbia defeated Ukraine 54-26, Zane Bijorac with four tries and Vladimir Milutinovic three to go with seven goals. Neil Bijorac, Serbia head coach noted: “We played some good ball and I was pleased with the attack. We do need to work on defence, however, as we conceded some soft tries.”
First up on game day three, Italy play Ukraine, the two sides who met in qualification for the tournament, the Azzurrini running out convincing winners in Fogliano in May.
According to Italy coach Richard Dodi: “We improved greatly in defence and with the ball against Ireland but we still made too many mistakes in attack. We’ve worked on that ahead of the Ukraine game, but the spirit is good in the camp.”
For his opposite number Ihor Yurkin: “I am pleased with my team against Serbia,” he said. “I thought we attacked well and the commitment was there throughout.”
All matches will again be staged at the Makis Stadium and live-streamed on – http://www.sportuzivo.tv/v2/
Round 3 fixtures – Saturday 11th August
Match 9 – Seventh/Eighth place – Italy vs Ukraine – (Pitch 2, 10am)
Match 10 – Fifth/Sixth place – Ireland vs Serbia – (Pitch 1, 10.30am)
Match 11 – Third/Fourth place – Scotland vs Wales – (Pitch 1, 4pm)
Match 12 – Cup Final – England vs France – (Pitch 1, 6pm)