U16s NAGS learn from Belgium test

U16s NAGS learn from Belgium test
England’s U16s NAGS travelled to Belgium for a three match test series in their final international matches of the current programme, read how the teams got on:

U16 Boys

Game 1
Belgium 5 - 2 England (4 - 1 HT)
Penrose 28’ PC, 57’ PS
Belgium 1’ FG, 3’ FG, 13’ FG, 21’ PC, 37’ PC

In the first match, England were overrun by an intense Belgian press with two turnovers deep in their own territory providing Belgium with simple opportunities to establish an early two goal lead. England were able to stem the tide for a period of time but a third Belgian goal just before quarter time reflected the balance of play. 

Belgium added a fourth from a penalty corner but just before half-time England responded with a slick penalty corner goal which was finished by Rory Penrose. The second-half was a more balanced affair, even with Belgium scoring again from a penalty corner in the third quarter. England played their best hockey in the final quarter and added a second goal from a penalty stroke which was both earned and converted by Rory Penrose for his second of the game. 


Game 2
Belgium 3 - 1 England (1 - 0 HT)
Penrose 45’ PC
Belgium 27’ FG, 31’ FG, 47’ FG

In the second match of the series, England delivered a much-improved performance, controlling long periods of possession in the first quarter. The first quarter finished at a stalemate and the second looked to be going the same way until just before half-time when Belgium scored a scrappy goal after an initial save by Heath. 

England looked to start the second half on the front foot but loose marking at critical times saw Belgium extend their lead from open play and kill England’s momentum. Having rebuilt a platform during the third quarter, England were able to score from a penalty corner. With the initial flick run down, the ball fell neatly for Rory Penrose to finish high into the net. 

Having re-established a foothold in the game, the final quarter appeared finely poised, however, England again conceded early to provide Belgium a two-goal margin. 


Game 3
Belgium 2 - 1 England (2 - 0 HT)
Wilcher 58’ PC
Belgium 11’ FG, 28’ FG

A competitive first quarter saw opportunities for both teams to score but once again it was Belgium who took the lead as they made the most of loose marking on two occasions to earn a healthy 2-0 lead before half-time.

England took control of both possession and the game as time ran on with several claims for penalty corners being waved away. With five minutes to go both teams elected to withdraw their goalkeeper, leaving eleven outfield players on both teams. With the action even more frantic, England won a penalty corner, which was converted by Lewis Wilcher. England were able to create one more clear-cut opportunity with seconds remaining in the game but couldn’t force a shot on target.

Player Comment, England U16 Boys Captain, Ben Collinson: “It was a tough weekend for the team and although the results didn’t go our way, the team demonstrated huge amounts of resilience to come back from a tough start to play well during the weekend. We learned that even small mistakes can be costly against the top European sides and we will particularly look to improve our man marking during our next games.”

Head Coach’s Comment: “From the relative shock of the first quarter in game 1, the team made big strides in their performances over the weekend. The first game provided a clear lesson for the team that their concentration levels need to be at highest level from the first minute to the last. If the group continues to develop using the experiences from this weekend and across the programme, I am confident we can win these games in the future.”


U16 Girls

Game 1
England 2 - Belgium 1
Long FG 14
O'Malley-Kumar FG 32
Belgium FG 47

It was a winning start to the series for England who enjoyed lots of possession and demonstrated good defensive work to repel Belgium’s attacking threat in the first match of the test series. 

England opened the scoring at the end of the first quarter courtesy of a Maddie Long field goal, with Grace O’Malley-Kumar doubling the lead just after the half-time break with another goal from open play.

The game lacked a bit of intensity and though Belgium were able to pull a goal back, they could find no equaliser thanks to England’s scramble defence. 

Game 2
England 0 - Belgium 1
Belgium FG 43

Despite not seeing such a positive score line as in the first game, this was a much better performance from the team despite the first quarter lacking intensity. The players executed their zonal defence very well and frustrated the Belgium attack for large parts of the game with the final quarter seeing some high intensity and good circle entry. Just a lapse allowed the Belgians to score a well taken goal and claim victory in the second game of the series.

Game 3
England 0 - Belgium 1
Belgium FG 25

A repeat score-line of the second test match, this game was played at a high intensity as England tested the Belgian defence on numerous occasions. There was good possession and circle entries as a result of good pressing of the Belgian defence. However, like in the previous game, Belgium were able to snatch the victory with a field goal just before half-time proving decisive in earning victory.

Head Coach’s comment: “The next challenge for this group of young players will be to capitalise on their possession and circle entry. The players understanding and appreciation of the principles of attacking play is outstanding and it is just some attention to detail that will help them in the future.”