Young Castleford Tigers stars played important roles as England’s Academy team came up with a thrilling win over their French equivalents in the first Test of an autumn series at the Stade de la Mediterranee.
Stand-off Callum McLelland emerged as the hero as he landed a late drop-goal to clinch a 19-18 win.
He was joined in the starting line-up by fellow Tigers half-back Jake Trueman plus back rower Luis Johnson while Calum Turner was on the bench.
Also in the side were local lads Will Dagger, who has just moved to Hull KR, and Cameron Smith, who plays for Leeds Rhinos.
France began well and took a 2-0 lead with a Romain Pallares penalty goal before Widnes player Danny Walker crossed for the first try and City of Hull Academy’s William Oakes converted.
Arthur Mourgue’s try and Pallares’ conversion put the hosts back ahead, but England quickly hit back as Trueman cleverly set up City of Hull’s Cameron Scott to go over.
In an end to end first half, France scored again through winger Shaunn Brugel and led 12-10 at the break.
Oakes levelled the scores early in the second period with a penalty before Scott’s break was followed up by Wigan’s Joe Brown to go over for a try.
Oakes made it 18-12 with another penalty after France’s Thomas Malfaz was sin-binned for France.
But the home team stuck to their task and brought the game level with three penalty goals of their own before McLelland stepped up to land the decisive drop-goal with time running out.
England: William Dagger (Hull KR, Castleford Panthers), William Oakes (City of Hull Academy, Eastmoor Dragons), James Worthington (Wigan Warriors), Cameron Scott (City of Hull Academy, Wyke), Joseph Brown (Wigan Warriors, Stanningley), Callum McLelland (Castleford Tigers, Lock Lane), Jacob Trueman (Castleford Tigers, West Bowling), Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors), Danny Walker (Widnes Vikings, Crosfields), Oliver Partington (Wigan Warriors, Orrell St James), Luis Johnson (Castleford Tigers, Oulton Raiders), Joseph Shorrocks (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks), Cameron Smith (Leeds Rhinos, Lock Lane). Subs: Owen Farnworth (Widnes Vikings, Chorley Panthers), Samuel Kibula (Wigan Warriors, Leigh Miners Rangers), Caine Barnes (Wigan Warriors, Seaton Rangers), Calum Turner (Castleford Tigers, Lock Lane).