Ireland get stuck in the mud late on


UNDER-20 WORLD CUP Ireland 15 England 20:IN AN under-20 World Cup that has produces some shock results, Ireland’s gallant effort for a place in the semi-final fell short after they led England for most of the match. English forward power on a bog of a pitch in South Africa finally paid off after two tries from the Irish and a half-time lead had set up Mike Ruddock’s young side for yet another upset – this time against the Six Nations champions.

Smart, canny and composed, Ireland eased their way into the match although England certainly began with the higher tempo and put their big ball carriers into the Irish defence. But they would have been disappointed by their return, an early penalty from Tom Heathcote for a 3-0 lead the only tangible reward for their efforts.

In those early stages English discipline began to falter badly and, as Ireland upset the flow of their opponents, England found themselves with two players in the sin bin in the first half. But Ireland’s declaration of intent came even before England had been whittled down for infringements.

In the 15th minute a magical break from winger Barry Daly saw him streak down the right and draw in the English defence. The ball fed in field found JJ Hanrahan who scrambled over in front of the posts. The latter’s conversion put Ireland 3-7 in front.

Shortly after Will Addison was sent to the line for a dangerous tackle, Irish scrumhalf, Kieran Marmion made a lightening break, which was taken on by Sam Coughlan-Murray. England’s George Merrick then drew his yellow and in the resulting scrum Ireland’s two-man advantage paid off handsomely.

Marmion stepped into the unmanned blind side and as number eight Jack Conan made himself the temporary No 9 to make the telling pass, Marmion scampering in unopposed. Hanrahan’s missed conversion still left Ireland 12-3 ahead and his penalty on half-time increased the lead at the interval to 15-3.

On the resumption, Heatcote quickly reduced the deficit to 15-6 as England bristled with intent. Their possession and momentum visibly rose and their massive pack powered forward, Irish captain Niall Scannell shipping a referee’s warning about his side’s infringements.

Just after the hour a huge scrum from England shoved Ireland backward and an impetuous tackle from the side from replacement Shane Buckley earned England a penalty try and Buckley a spell in the bin. England duly scored their remaining crucial points as wilting Ireland scrambled around the park a man down.

The nail in the coffin for Ireland arrived three minutes later with an England forward rumble, the gargantuan tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler emerging from the tangle with a wide grin and the ball in his hand.

England outhalf Heathcote converted to make it 20-15, Ireland in the end overpowered and outmuscled on a pitch that at the whistle was barely playable.

Scoring sequence – 4 mins T Heathcote pen 3-0; 15 mins Hanrahan try and con 3-7; 26 mins K Marmion try 3-12; 40 mins Hanrahan pen 3-15. Half-time. 44 mins Heathcote pen 6-15; 62 mins pen try, Heathcote con 13-15; 66 mins K Sinckler try, Heathcote con 20-15.

IRELAND UNDER-20S:P Nelson (Ulster); B Daly (Leinster), C Farrell (Ulster), F Horan (Leinster), S Coghlan Murray (Leinster); JJ Hanrahan (Munster), K Marmion (Connacht); D Merrey (Leinster), N Scannell (Munster) (capt), T Furlong (Leinster); T Beirne (Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster); J Coghlan (Leinster), C Gilsenan (Leinster), J Conan (Leinster) Replacements: S Buckley (Munster) for Gilsenan (29 mins), J Rael (Munster) for Scannell (63 mins), L McGrath (Leinster) for Marmion (68 mins), J Carty (Connacht) for Coghlan-Murray (68 mins), A O’Connor (Leinster) for Buckley (73 mins), S Olding (Ulster for Nelson (78 mins). Sin-bin: Buckley 62-72 mins).

ENGLAND UNDER-20S:T Bell; M Yarde, W Addison, R Mills, Charlie Walker; T Heathcote, B Spencer; A Hepburn, K Britton, K Sinckler; D Barrow, G Merrick; D Sisi, B Nutley, J Clifford. Replacements:S Hillfor Mills (half-time), D Robson for Spencer, C Walker for Clifford, B Ransom for Addison (all 49 mins),M Crumpton for Koree Britton, L Cowan-Dickie for Hepburn (53 mins), S Twomey for Merrick (65 mins). Sin-bin: Addison (19-29 mins), Merrick 24-34 mins).

Referee: L van der Merwe(South Africa).