Former North Midlands youth p[layers Ted Hill and Kai Owen helped England secure fifth place in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship with a 45-26 victory over Wales in Rosario, Argentina on Saturday.
Hill’s 74th minute try – his third of the championship – helped to end Wales’ fightback and ensured England ended the tournament on a high.
Loosehead prop Owen, who played for North Midlands Under-20s in 2017/18, also featured in England’s win as he came on as a 76th replacement. Both Owen and Hill, a former North Midlands Under-16s player, now play for Worcester Warriors.
England led 28-0 at the break through tries from Josh Hodge, Will Capon, a penalty try and Joe Heyes, with Hodge adding the extras.
Wales scored second-half tries through Jac Morgan, Dewi Lake, Ed Scragg but tries from Fraser Dingwall and Hill as well as Hodge’s penalty helped settled the game.
Despite pool victories over Italy and Australia, England didn’t progress to the top four of the Championship, having lost their opening game against Ireland.
Steve Bates’ side were instead left to compete for fifth place, later defeating Ireland in the semi-final to set up a clash with Wales.
Hodge had the first try of the game, jinking past a couple of Wales defenders on the right wing before chipping over the top and collecting his own kick to dot down, also converting his score.
Capon bundled over off the back of a driving maul for a second try which Hodge converted for 14-0.
Wales lost Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler to the sin bin for an intentional knock on with a penalty try also awarded to give England a 21-0 lead and a pick and go from Heyes on the stroke of half time extended that lead further.
Wales scored two tries in quick succession Morgan and then later Lake bundling over off the back of a driving maul with Cai Evans converting both.
Dingwall was first to a spilled ball in the Wales 22m to dot down for a fifth England try.
Scragg scored a third for Wales via a driving maul and Evans’ conversion reduced the deficit to 35-21.
However, a late penalty from Hodge and Hill’s score in the corner settled the match, despite Dyer’s late try.
“The guys played really well in that first half, they took their opportunities well and that gave us a nice cushion at the break and put us in a commanding position,” said England Head Coach Bates.
“It’s hugely important to finish well, we wanted to make sure we won as many games as possible and the winner of the final will only have won as many as we have, which is four out of five.
“I hope the players will learn some important lessons for the future about how important it is to turn up and perform in every game and we will look back with regret at this tournament the fact we didn’t do that in our opening fixture against Ireland.”