Occold’s Will Owen stands on the verge of World Rugby Under-20 Championship glory after helping England reach the final.
The former Diss Rugby Club youth star was among the squad that delivered a mature performance, with three tries, courtesy of two push overs and a further score from Nick Tompkins, proving enough to secure a 28-20 success over South Africa in Calvisano, Italy on Monday.
The result has set up the opportunity for England to defend their title tomorrow as they remain one step away from retaining their crown in a final showdown decider against New Zeland (7.30pm BST), who overcame France 45-7.
Speaking after the game, head coach Jon Callard could not hide his delight as he heaped praise on his squad.
“I am so proud of the boys and how they played, particularly up front,” he said. “The South Africans are very big and physical and we more than matched them – not just for size and heart, but for speed of thought and game management.
“The way we disrupted the line-out and scrum was also very impressive. I would consider this evening a proper game of Test football.
“The players deserve credit for the way they responded after the France game (lost 30-18 in final group game last Wednesday). Everyone knuckled down and realised that if we stick to the processes and do the basics well, we will be a successful side. Today we showed that.
“We now have the opportunity to continue the journey of developing as individuals and a team as we look forward to Saturday.”