England Counties completed their fifth successive summer tour clean sweep when they claimed another international Test scalpby beating Spain in Valladolid.
The Counties scored seven tries and keep their lines intact in a performance that grew from a moderate first-half effort into a dominant display after the interval which was decorated with some clinical work that the resolute Spanish could not contain. Spain managed a brace of penalties by scrum-half Santiago Fernandez, but they never threatened a try as the tourists kept their shape for 80 minutes.
The Counties side could scarcely have wished for a better start, centre Steve Hamilton scoring at the posts and fly-half Ollie Thomas converting after three minutes after flanker Aaron Myers had latched onto a handling error by the home side.
Scrum-half Santiago Fernandez and Thomas then exchanged penalties as the territorial battle fluctuated, but good work by flankers Myers and Jack Preece then produced an opening for scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone and he burst through at the posts, Thomas adding the conversion.
Fernandez and Thomas were again on the mark with penalties as both sides lost players to the sin-bin, Preece for the Counties and hooker Daniel Marron for Spain both spending the mandatory spell on the sidelines for killing the ball on the ground.
At 20-6 at the break, the Counties needed to develop more continuity and coherence in the second-half and rid themselves of the frenetic moments which undid some of their first-half opportunities and gave Spain all the encouragement they needed to maintain their energy levels.
After the interval, however, the Counties began to build with more precision and as they worked the ball through phases of play rather that solo moments, the tries began to flow and Spain gradually fell away.
A neat solo burst by fly-half Thomas ended in a 43rd minute try that he converted and as the Counties began to play a controlled game, they pulled away with a second try from Charlie Mulchrone, wingman Gareth Collins, No 8 Rob Baldwin and lock Ben Hilton, Thomas converting all three to take the tally past the half-century mark.
“Our performance was very good in parts and at other times we got drawn into some battles we didn’t need to be in,” said Manager Michael Old: “The commitment was there to win the ball, every ruck was hit, every ball was won and tries were scored. “
Said RFU Junior Vice-President Paul Murphy, who has been with the tour: “It’s been a fabulous tour and the last 20 minutes of this match, which involved some superb rugby, was the product of the hard work by the players and the coaches over the two weeks. Those closing minutes brought some wonderful rugby as everything they had worked on on the training ground came together.”
“I was pleased wit the last 20 minites when we played some brilliant rug by and scored some fine tries,” said Coach Dave Baldwin: “This has been an exceptional tour from Day One and to win a Test match against Spain is the perfect culmination to the trip. They are a great bucn of lads who have trained really hard, been a pleasure to be with and fully deserve this win.”
England Counties: Fergus Mulchrone (Cheshire); Gareth Collins (Leicester Lions Warwickshire) capt, Peter Hodgkinson (Ealing Trailfinders Cheshire), Stephen Hamilton (Rotherham Kent), Cameron Mitchell (Plymouth Albion North Midlands); Ollie Thomas (Moseley North Midlands), Charlie Mulchrone (Macclesfield Cheshire); Gavin Woods (Caldy Cheshire), Tommy Taylor (Sale Jets/Macclesfield), Craig Voisey (Moseley North Midlands), Steve Pape (Rosslyn Park Somerset), Ben Hilton (Launceston Cornwall), Jack Preece (Birmingham Solihull Gloucestershire), Aaron Myers (Westoe Durham), Rob Baldwin (Wharfedale Yorkshire) capt
Replacements all used: Matt Hall (Blaydon Northumberland), Rob Schillaci (Hertford Hertfordshire), Richard Boyle (Tynedale Northumberland), Tom Stradwick (Henley Hawks Kent), Jimmy Williams (Birmingham and Solihull Gloucestershire), Tom Hughes (Preston Grasshoppers Lancashire), Ollie Brennand (Fylde Lancashire), Martin Kent (Macclesfield Cheshire)
Spain: Ignacio Gutierrez; Manuel Capdeville, Nicholas Marshall, Corey Smith, Ryan Leroux; Andoni Jorajuria, Santiago Fernandez (capt); Alberto Rocha, Daniel Marron, Mattin Auzqui, Anibal Bonan, Tom Parker, David Barrera, Rafael Matt, Alejandro Ortega.