Ireland's first ever semi-final appearance at the Junior World Championship ended in disappointment yesterday as defending champions England booked their place in Friday's final.
U-20 WORLD CUP
Mike Ruddock's side were no match for England as they made it to the final for the third time in four years. Ireland were dominated in a completely one-sided first half and trailed by 31 points (34-3) at the break.
There was a marked improvement in the second half, with Ireland outscoring England 12 points to eight, but it mattered little as England were well out of sight at that stage.
Afterwards, Ruddock had no complaints about the result – admitting that his side were beaten by a superior English outfit.
"We spoke before the game about having to put on a world-class defensive performance to compete with England – and whilst I am very proud of the boys, we simply could not match them," he said.
"That is a very good, complete England team. Their experience is immense. I was very proud with how we dug in and kept battling, that was the plus point," the coach added.
Ireland lost their talismanic captain Jack O'Donoghue to injury, which compounded what was a hugely one-sided first half.
Billy Burns kicked England into a 3-0 lead after four minutes before Harry Sloan dotted down for a try that Burns converted. The fly-half added a second penalty, but Ireland got their solitary first-half score via the boot of Ross Byrne.
Byrne's penalty appeared to spark England into life again and they ran in a further three tries before the break. Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Howard Packman and Tom Woolstencroft all crossed the white wash and Burns converted on each occasion.
Howard Packman slotted over a drop-goal eight minutes after the restart, but Ireland hit back with a Garry Ringrose converted try.
Gus Jones crossed for England's fifth try, but Ireland had the final say when Alex Wootton scored his second try of the tournament.
Cian Kelleher was sin binned late on as England advanced to the final, where they will meet South Africa. Ireland will play hosts New Zealand in the third/fourth place play-off.
England – A Morris; H Packman, N Tompkins (J Henry Purdy 66), H Sloan, N Earle; B Burns (S Oliver 67), H Taylor (C Braley 47); D Hobbs-Awoyemi (A Lundberg 51), T Woolstencroft (J Walker 51), P Hill (H Rudkin 66); M Itoje (c) (H Thompson-Stringer 77), C Ewels; R Moriarty (J Conlon 66), G Jones, J Chisholm.
Ireland – C Kelleher; C Gaffney, G Ringrose, D Goggin (H Brewer h/t), A Wootton; R Byrne (C McKeon 61), N McCarthy (R Foley 61); P Dooley (D Coulson 67), M Abbott (D Donnellan h/t), R Burke (O Heffernan h/t); S Gardiner (D Moloney 77), R Molony; P Timmins, F Taggart, J O'Donoghue (c) (R Moloney 38).
REF – A Gardner (Australia).