England U18 were beaten 14-12 by Wales in the second game of their development tour at Paarl Gymnasium, Paarl, South Africa.
England had won their opening game of the 'U19 International Series', defeating France 24-8 in Stellenbosch, last week.
Wales led 14-0 at the break through converted tries from Tomi Lewis and Kemsley Mathias and narrowly held onto that lead, despite two late tries from England's Will Capon and a conversion from Cameron Redpath. Wales struck first through fullback Lewis, who pounced on a well weighted cross-field kick over the England defence. It was converted by Thomas to take the score to 7-0 inside the first five minutes.
Unfazed, John Fletcher's men began to build phases and made their way into opposition territory, enjoying dominance at set piece and surging toward the Welsh line from promising positions on both sides of the field. But England was unable to cross the whitewash; with some firm defence denying them on each attempt.
On the 25th minute, England's Alex Coles was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock on, but Thomas was unable to convert three points from the resulting penalty. Moments before half-time, Wales extended their lead to 14 points, as the video referee decided prop Mathias' surge over the line from a maul had resulted in a touch down. The extras from Thomas were successful.
The two teams tussled for ascendancy early in the second half, and England were close to narrowing the gap if not for a knock on metres short of the Welsh line. It took until the 67th minute for England to get on the score sheet, through Capon, who powered over the line after a sustained attacking period. Redpath added the extras.
Moments later, a counter-attack saw England break down field where they found themselves just shy of the Welsh line, Capon picked from the base of a ruck and bundled over for his second. But the kick for the draw was wide. England lost a close 12-14
England next faces South Africa Schools on Saturday 19 August at City Park, Athlone in the final game of their tour.
"We got up there in the first half but just didn't execute at the very end and that's what you have to do at this level, execute all the chances you get. In the second half we brought it back, they didn't score a point in the second half which was nice to see, a tough game, hats off to the Welsh. We've learnt a lot from these two games, now we have to bring it to South Africa Schools to get a win. We have a very good chance so we're all looking forward to that." said Redpath.