Sunday 27 May 2018

Ireland avenge English defeats to make history

It proved 'third time lucky' for Ireland U-20s in Cape Town yesterday as they guaranteed their best ever finish at an IRB Junior World Championship with a brilliant play-off win.

Ireland will battle France for fifth place on Friday after beating the Six Nations champions at the third time of asking.

England are the only team Ireland have lost to at this level this year, with Mike Ruddock's men losing the Grand Slam decider in March and being edged out in the pool stages of this tournament last week.

But revenge was sweet for skipper Niall Scannell and his team-mates as three converted tries gave them a deserved victory.

JJ Hanrahan converted first-half efforts from Barry Daly and Iain Henderson and added a penalty to give the Irish a 17-0 lead at the break.

A degree of niggle crept into the game and as half-time approached Henderson was yellow-carded for taking a player out in the air.

England's numerical advantage helped them hit back when Chris Walker got over for a try just two minutes into the second half, but Ireland knuckled down.

Hanrahan settled nerves with a 57th-minute penalty and England had Walker and Marland Yarde sin-binned.

Ireland sewed it up in the 73rd minute with another clever piece of attacking play. Playmaker Hanrahan hung up a cross-field kick and flanker Jordan Coghlan showed admirable pace to charge onto the bouncing ball and scoot over.

Hanrahan kicked the conversion, before England gained some token consolation in the form of a Henry Slade seven-pointer.

But there was no denying Ruddock's superbly-drilled charges, who added the scalp of England to South Africa and are certain to eclipse their previous best finish of eighth.

IRELAND U-20s -- P Nelson; B Daly, S Olding, C Farrell, F Horan; JJ Hanrahan, K Marmion; D Merrey, N Scannell (capt), T Furlong, A O'Connor, T Beirne, I Henderson, J Coghlan, J Conan. Reps: J Rael , P Reilly, J Cawley, S Buckley, A Conneely, L McGrath, J Carty, C Finn.

Irish Independent

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