England Counties finished their tour of Romania unbeaten after a 31-20 win over Romania A in Bucharest.
Max Connon got the visitors off to a perfect start, hitting a superb line from 30 metres out to sprint through with the try converted by fly half Lawrence Rayner.
The hosts responded with two penalties to make it 6-7 before Jake Lloyd continued his impressive try-scoring record, touching down after a break from scrum half Jake Gash. Rayner once again added the extras to bring England’s lead to 14-6.
Penalties continued to keep Romania in the game with two more successful kicks making it 14-12 to the visitors at the break.
Rayner added England’s first penalty of the match early in the second half with Romania responded with their fifth of the game to make it 17-15 with 20 minutes left on the clock.
A tense final quarter saw England pull away with two converted tries in the space of five minutes. The first came from Gash with Ollie Hodgson running in the second to all but seal the game.
A late consolation try from Romania came with nine minutes left with the hosts running out of time to mount a comeback.
Team manager Matt Long, the former Moseley and Birmingham & Solihull prop, praised his side’s performance. “It was a very physical encounter throughout, especially in the set piece.
“We had some very good spells in defence and I think our patience with the ball was outstanding which is why we were able to score some excellent tries.”
Long also praised the wider squad with 22 of the 29 touring party – including North Midlands and Birmingham Moseley prop Joe Wrafter – new to England Counties. “We have 12 Counties represented on the tour with the average age of our players 22 so we’re really pleased with how all these players have come together.”