Ireland steal late win in Athlone
Ireland 16 England 15:Leinster’s Tom Daly kicked a late conversion at Dubarry Park to secure a one-point win for Ireland under-20s over their English counterparts.
The homeside got out of jail in an ill-disciplined game that saw three yellow cards, one red and precious little quality, but a determined effort was rewarded with a win that opens up the championship again after defeat to Wales last week.
England struggled badly with their lineout in the first half and wasted promising field position as a result, but outhhalf Henry Slade was still afford three opportunities at the posts and took each one.
Having missed a chance to level it a three all early in the game, Ireland’s Daly secured the homeside’s only points of the half after Ross Moriarty was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Luke McMGrath. The flanker, who picked the scrumhalf up at the back of the ruck and recklessly dropped him on his head, pleaded his case but could have few complaints.
The introduction of replacement hooker Nathan Morris remedied England’s lineout issues after the break, but it was Ireland who drew first blood when outside centre Daly closed the gap with a penalty.
Slade, however, restored the lead almost immediately from distance and when Daly was sin-binned for going off his feet the numerical advantage was no more and the Exeter player added his fifth penalty for a nine-point lead.
It got worse for Ireland when Connacht fullback Robbie Henshaw tackled opposite number Ben Howard in the air and suddenly it was England with the man over.
However, Rory Scholes ably filled Daly’s boots and kicked a penalty for the homeside after England captain Jack Clifford was fortunate to escape a yellow for a deliberate trip.
With six points in it, the momentum shifted back Ireland’s way when Elliot Stack was binned for pulling down a maul and Daly, soon followed by Henshaw, returned to the field. The two-man advantage paid dividends as a sweeping Ireland move had England back-peddling before Henshaw fed Scholes in at the corner.
Daly still had the conversion to claim the spoils but the Leinster man kept his cool under pressure and delivered the win.