The Welsh Dragons have breathed a new life into international Rugby League in front of a an enthusiastic crowd at Wrexham, and one of Sky Sports largest Rugby TV audiences of the year. Despite losing the match 42 – 33, the inspirational performance from the patchwork outfit that made up Wales has shown to the RFL and Super League that a European Championship could work.
Wales first half was reminiscent of their World Cup semi final first half. Despite inspirational captain Iestyn Harris reduced to water carrier, Wales scored three quick tries through Lee, Gibson and Briers to be up 16 –0 within 15 minutes.
England then hit back through a try to Peacock, which was soon followed by one from Sculthorpe which brought England to be back within 2 until Lee scored his second try let the Dragon’s finish the half 22 – 14.
At half time Waite re-shuffled the England back line at half-time, moving Radlinski to his full-back spot and switching Paul Wellens to the three quarters. This move seemed to work with England scoring 4 quick tries within 25 minutes to take the lead.
Wales had conceded 28 points without reply but they summoned up one last big effort and that brought tries for second rower Chris Morley and substitute Paul Atcheson, with Briers' fourth goal cutting the deficit to just five points. Wales still
had a slight chance of an upset but England had the final say four minutes from the end when Wellens, switched from full-back to wing for the second half, scored at the corner to seal a cliff hanging victory.
Tries: Paul Sculthorpe 3, Jamie Peacock, Andrew Farrell, Lee Radford , Karl Pratt, Paul Wellens
Goals: Andy Farrell 5
Team: Paul Wellens, Leon Pryce, Kris Radlinski, Keith Senior, Chev Walker, Paul Sculthorpe, Paul Deacon, Paul Anderson, Terry Newton, Brian McDermott, Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield, Andy Farrell; Subs: Karl Pratt, Paul King, Nathan Sykes, Lee Radford
Tries: Jason Lee 2, Damien Gibson, Lee Briers, Chris Morley, Paul Atcheson
Goals: Lee Briers 4
Field Goal: Briers
Team: Mark Lennon, Damian Gibson, Martin Pearson, Jason Critchley, Jason Lee, Lee Briers, Barry Eaton, Keith Mason, Ian Watson, Dave Whittle, Chris Morley, Dean Busby, Keiron Cunningham; Subs: Paul Atcheson, Steffan Hughes, Gareth Dean, Gareth Price
Venue: Racecourse Ground (Wrexham, Wales) Crowd: 6,373
Date: Tue Jul 29, 7:30pm
Referee: Thierry Alibert (France)
Half time: Wales 22 - 14
Article by Steven Birchall
1 Aug 2001