Ireland U-20 well beaten in Auckland

England will go on to defend the World Championship title they won last year after prevailing in today’s semi-final

Ireland captain Jack O’Donoghue. Photograph: Andrew Cornaga/Inpho/Photosport

England U-20 42 Ireland U-20 15: There is no quibbling about the meritocracy of England's victory as they eased to a comprehensive victory in the Under-20 World Championship semi-final in Auckland.

The English side was dominant in every facet of the match and the game as a contest was over by the interval. At that point England led 34-3, through tries from centre Harry Sloan, prop Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, right wing Howard Packman and hooker Tom Woolstencroft. Outhalf Billy Burns, a younger brother of senior England international Freddie, converted all four.

Ireland were ruthlessly shunted aside up front and dominated physically in the main theatres of confrontation. England played with a high intensity and tempo, intelligently varying the point of attack and for the most part converting the opportunities they created.

They dominated the collisions, getting over the gain-line and guaranteeing the front foot, quick possession from which to launch their attacks. Ireland lost 33-9 when the two sides met in the Six Nations Championship earlier in the season at Franklin's Gardens.


On that occasion they trailed 16-9 at half-time before the English side pulled away with 17 unanswered points but this time the damage was done by half-time. Ireland coach Mike Ruddock freshened up the team for the second half and that energy allowed Ireland a mini-victory of sorts as they scored two tries from Garry Ringrose and left wing Alex Wootton.

Ireland lost their inspirational captain Jack O'Donoghue with a blow to the head just before the interval. It was symptomatic of the injury misfortune that has befallen this side, both before the travelled to New Zealand in losing several players including Dan Leavy, Sean O'Brien and Peter Robb.

Ireland coach Mike Ruddock sensibly took an holistic approach, in making a number of changes at the interval that had the twin buttress of giving the team energy and also protecting players who had carried bumps and bruises into the game from the last day.

Outhalf Ross Byrne's clever grubber kick allowed Ringrose to beat the cover to the touch down in the shadow of the English posts, while Ireland's second try was created by Harrison Brewer. The Terenure player managed to get outside the English cover and his long pass found Alex Wootton.

The former Northampton Saints academy player demonstrated neat footwork in stepping inside the cover. Byrne converted Ringrose’s try having earlier posted a penalty for Ireland’s only score of the first half.

Ireland will now go on to the third and fourth place playoff next Friday at Eden Park where they will face the hosts nation New Zealand who were beaten 32-25 by South Africa in the second semi-final. It is the baby 'Boks who stand between England and a successful defence of the title they won last year.

Scoring sequence.

4 mins: Burns penalty, 0-3; Sloan try, Burns conversion, 0-10; 11: Burns penalty, 0-13; 19: Byrne penalty, 3-13; 21: Hobbs-Awoyemi try, Burns conversion, 3-20; 27: Packman try, Burns conversion, 3-27; 33: Woolstencroft try, Burns conversion, 3-34. Half-time: 3-34.48: Packman drop goal, 3-37; 49: Ringrose try, Byrne conversion, 10-37; 53: Jones try, 10-42; 68: Wootton try, 15-42.

Ireland U20: C Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster); C Gaffney (Galwegians/Connacht), G Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), D Goggin (Young Munster/Munster), A Wootton (Garryowen/Munster); R Byrne (UCD/Leinster), N McCarthy (UCD/Leinster); P Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), M Abbott (Cork Constitution/Munster), R Burke (Cork Constitution/Munster), S Gardiner (Lansdowne/Leinster), R Molony (UCD/Leinster), P Timmins (UCD/Leinster), F Taggart (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), J O'Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster, capt.).

Replacements: R Moloney (Buccaneers/Connacht) for O'Donoghue 36 mins; H Brewer (Terenure College/Leinster) for Goggin (half-time); D Donnellan (UCD/Leinster) for Abbott (half-time); O Heffernan (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Burke (half-time); R Foley (Lansdowne/Leinster) for McCarthy 60 mins; C McKeon (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Byrne 60 mins; D Coulson (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Dooley 67 mins; D Moloney (Cork Constitution/Munster) for Gardiner 77 mins.

Yellow card: C Kelleher 80 mins.

England U20: A Morris (Bedford Blues), H Packman (Northampton Saints), N Tompkins (Saracens), H Sloan (Harlequins), N Earle (Saracens); B Burns (Gloucester Rugby), H Taylor (Loughborough University); D Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints), T Woolstencroft (Bath), Pl Hill (Leeds Carnegie); M Itoje (Saracens, capt), C Ewels (Bath Rugby); R Moriarty (Gloucester), G Jones (London Wasps), J Chisholm (Harlequins).

Replacements: C Braley (Bristol ) for Taylor 47 mins; A Lundberg (London Wasps) for Hobbs-Awoyemi 50 mins; J Walker (Leeds Carnegie) for Woolsencroft 50 mins; J Conlon (Exeter Chiefs) for Moriarty 54 mins; S Olver (Northampton Saints) for Burns 56 mins; H Rudkin (Leicester Tigers) for Hill 65 mins; H Purdy (Leicester Rugby) for Tompkins 65 mins, H Thompson-Stringer (Saracens).

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia).

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer