PRINCE Henry's Grammar School and Otley Rugby Union Club are lauding two world champions.
Prop Paul Hill, who was on loan from Leeds Carnegie at Cross Green last season, played throughout for England Under-20s in their International Rugby Board Junior World Championship final against South Africa in New Zealand.
And the mobile front-rower, who has left PHGS, was joined by current pupil Jack Walker, who replaced hooker Tom Woolstoncraft after 62 minutes of the 21-20 victory at Eden Park in Auckland.
Tries from Nathan Earle and Joel Conlon looked to have put holders England on the way but the Baby Boks rallied from 21-13 down to set up a thrilling finale.
In the end, a pair of penalties and a conversion from Billy Burns – younger brother of England international Freddie – plus Aaron Morris’ superbly-struck penalty from inside his own half, proved just enough.
After a cagey opening, Handre Pollard and Burns exchanged penalties to make it 3-3 with 18 minutes on the clock.
South Africa had the opening score with half an hour played after a tap-and-go from England’s Henry Taylor was knocked on by Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi. The ball fell to Pollard, who chipped through for Jessie Kriel to score.
England never really got going in the first 35 minutes but had some joy at the end of the half.
First Morris sent a 55-metre penalty flying between the sticks before a smart break from Nick Tompkins freed up space for Earle to dive over. It was the Saracens winger’s sixth try of the tournament.
Another Burns penalty just after half-time extended their narrow lead to 14-10 before Pollard hit back to make it 14-13.
With the game on a knife-edge, England got the ultimately decisive second try – executing a rolling maul from a line-out to perfection, with replacement Conlon eventually touching down.
At 21-13 up, Burns saw a penalty sail to the left of the posts, and England were made to pay when Kriel went over for his second try after a scything South African attack.
The impressive Pollard sent a drop-goal attempt just wide with five minutes to play, but England’s staunch defence held firm for their second consecutive JWC title.
England’s head coach Nick Walshe said: “I thought we grew through the game and got some composure. Aaron banging the penalty over was a real boost and then sneaking in the corner just before half-time really gave us a shift of momentum.
“In the second half, we played some really good rugby and we had chances, and to get to 21-13 up we just needed that one more score.
“We couldn’t get the killer blow and they just came straight back but I felt we were in control of the second half just before the last five or ten minutes.”