Heartbreak for Ireland as England snatch late, late victory
Ireland U-20 23 England U-20 30
It was heartbreak at the death for the Ireland U-20s, who having battled back from 23-9 down with 11 minutes left, were left with nothing after conceding a converted try to England with the last play of the game.
It was cruel on Ireland, who, in atrocious conditions, were not at their best, but still served up another reminder of the doggedness that has been a hallmark of their season.
Late converted tries from Jonathan Wren and Brian Deeny looked to have forced extra-time, but at the third time of asking this year, England finally notched a win against Noel McNamara's side.
Ireland will now take on New Zealand in Saturday's seventh place play-off in a game that will hold significance for next year's seeding. At the end of a gruelling campaign, it is the last thing they need.
As it was during the pool defeat to Ireland when they were given two yellow cards and a red, England's discipline was appalling again as three players were sent to the bin.
Ireland dominated the first 40 minutes, but found themselves 13-6 behind. Ted Hill was binned for a tip tackle on Charlie Ryan after six minutes, before Ben Healy put Ireland in front with a penalty.
Josh Hodge cancelled that out and he repeated the trick on 34 minutes after Healy had added a second penalty and Kai Owen was shown a yellow for a high tackle.
With Ireland unable to break England down, they struck for a converted try through Hodge just before the break.
Healy got Ireland off to a good start after the restart with a third penalty, but again, England immediately hit back through Hodge. England sensed blood and Sam Maunder pounced from close range. Hodge again added the extras as his side led by 23-9 lead after 55 minutes.
It went from bad to worse for Ireland when Dylan Tierney-Martin was yellow-carded for a high tackle.
Just after the hooker returned to the fray, Ireland finally broke England's resistance as a lovely Healy pass put Wren over in the corner. The out-half made the conversion.
A minute later, the game was turned on its head as Deeny did brilliantly to charge down a kick and sprint clear to score a second try that Healy converted to pull Ireland level at 23-23 as extra-time loomed.
Rusiate Tuima was binned for another high tackle and despite finishing the game with a man less, England snatched victory when Tom Willis forced his way over.
Ireland U-20 - J Flannery; A O'Sullivan (A Kernohan h-t) (D Adamson 61-68), L Turner, D Ryan, J Wren; B Healy, C Casey; M Milne (J Wycherley h-t), D Tierney-Martin, C Ward (T Clarkson h-t); C Ryan (N Murray 42-51), T Ahern; R Baird, R Watters (L Clohessy, 79), A Allison (B Deeny 59).
England U-20 - T de Glanville (L James 45); O Sleightholme (O Adkins 31-39), F Dingwall (capt), C Redpath, J Hodge; M Vunipola, S Maunder (O Fox 74); K Owen (Adkins 51), W Capon (N Dolly 59), J Heyes (J Kenny 72); J Kpoku (R Tuima 70), A Coles (T Willis 51); R Capstick, A Hinkley, T Hill.
REF - B Blain (Scotland)