Joyce the saviour for Ireland Clubs
England Counties 22 Ireland Clubs 23
Hopefully this might be a foretaste of what's to come at Twickenham this afternoon as a battling Irish clubs side deservedly secured victory in Darlington.
The hero of the night was Clontarf's David Joyce, who landed a late penalty to snatch victory in the dying moments at the Northern Echo Arena.
It was no more than Tom Tierney's men deserved as they had battled back in the second half and looked to have victory snatched from them before Joyce's late clincher.
England Counties enjoyed the greater possession in the opening half and deservedly led 12-6 at the break, with Joyce landing two from two. Mark Roche helped Ireland go 14-12 in front with a try after 53 minutes, but a Jack Adams try for the hosts put five between them, 19-14, going into the final quarter.
Ireland took over from there and Joyce edged them in front with two penalties, only for Luke Myring to land a penalty two minutes from time to put England back in front.
England tried to play down the clock after that, but Ireland never gave up and the pack won superb turnover ball and a penalty 27 metres in front of the English posts and Joyce did the rest.
England – S Taylor (C Briers 65); C Mitchell, J Adams, L Myring (B Rath 53), J Wigglesworth; C Johnson, S Liebenberg; R Kalbraier, B McNamee, M George; C Wearmouth, B Hilton; T Stradwick (G Jones 53), R Baldwin, O Cooper-Millar.
Ireland – D Riordan (Old Belvedere); M McGrath (Clontarf), S Morrow (Ballynahinch) (B Daly (UCD) 62), M Roche (Lansdowne), C Aherne (Lansdowne); D Joyce (Clontarf), G Hurley (Cork Con) (N Cronin (Garryowen) 78); C McMahon (St Mary's College) (I Hirst (Clontarf) 51), T Moran (Lansdowne) (A O'Drsicoll (Cork Con) 51), D Lavery (Old Belvedere); D Moore (Old Belvedere) (S Walsh (Cashel) 62), F Walsh (Terenure); W Earle (Lansdowne), W Ryan (Cork Con), C Butterworth (Lansdowne).
Ref – G Wells (Scotland).