Thursday 17 October 2019

Never-say-die spirit wears down indisciplined English

Ireland U-20s 42 England U-20s 26

Jake Flannery of Ireland. Photo: Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images
Jake Flannery of Ireland. Photo: Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images

Des Berry

They say excuses are there for the weak of mind.

Certainly, Ireland coach Noel McNamara had a number of them to draw on should the worst come to the worst at the Club de Rugby Ateneo Immaculada, in Santa Fe.

The reason England have made the last six finals in this competition is that they can absorb most injuries easily due to their impressive depth chart.

The pre-tournament loss of their captain David Hawkshaw, out-half Harry Byrne and first-choice flankers Martin Moloney and Scott Penny were heavy punches Ireland took.

Stewart Moore of Ireland looks to the referee to confirm he has scored a try during his side’s
dramatic victory over England at the U-20 World Cup in Santa Fe, Argentina last night. Photo: Sportsfile
Stewart Moore of Ireland looks to the referee to confirm he has scored a try during his side’s dramatic victory over England at the U-20 World Cup in Santa Fe, Argentina last night. Photo: Sportsfile

The writing was everywhere, but the dressing-room wall.

The accuracy of Ireland's work had to be spot on, as it was when these old rivals engaged in Cork in February.

What that rabid night in Irish Independent Park would have done was put England on notice for the opening day of the U-20 World Cup.

They came not only to play, but to punish.

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The English had first use of the breeze and they blitzed up in defence for Nic Dolly to force a penalty and Manu Vunipola split the posts.

Then, Ollie Sleightholme got on the outside of Iwan Hughes and Vunipola made it a 10-point game.

Charlie Ryan came up with a vital block and Jake Flannery stepped off his right foot for a try and conversion.

John Hodnett then clamped down on Tom Willis for a penalty and the same man stole another ball on the ground.

Even so, Vunipola struck to make it 13-7 in the 26th minute.

A remarkable take by Dylan Tierney-Martin on the restart put Ireland on the front foot and Stewart Moore dived on the ball for a smartly-taken try, Flannery's conversion edging them in front in the 28th minute.

Joel Kpoku of England tackles Thomas Clarkson of Ireland. Photo: Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images
Joel Kpoku of England tackles Thomas Clarkson of Ireland. Photo: Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images

A high hit from Aaron Hinkley on Angus Kernohan was deemed worthy of a yellow as the Irish led 14-13 at the interval.

Ireland could easily have been discouraged by 10 quick points from Vunipola's penalty and Sleightholme's second.

The indiscipline of the English was their downfall though, Vunipola sin-binned for a high tackle on Iwan Hughes.

The Irish forwards went into overdrive for David McCann to burrow over, Ben Healy converting in the 52nd minute.

But Tom Seabrook whistled up the left for England to recover the lead.

Charlie Ryan then turned down a penalty to go for gold and McCann blasted through for his second, Healy's extras making it 28-26 in the 62nd minute. It was then that Alfie Barbeary was red-carded for an outrageous lift and dump of Hodnett.

Ireland opted for a scrum, Craig Casey moving the ball left for Healy to touch down and land a touchline conversion for a two-score lead.

They survived a drive by Joel Kpoku due to Sean French's willingness to stay in the fight, forcing a knock-on.

It wasn't long before French was going in the other direction though, Hodnett then crashing over and Healy's conversion closing a spectacular show.

Ireland U-20s - I Hughes; A Kernohan, L Turner, S Moore, J Wren; J Flannery, C Casey; J Wycherley , D Tierney-Martin, T Clarkson; C Ryan (capt), R Baird; D McCann, J Hodnett, A Allison. Reps: R Watters for Allison (25); S French for Moore, B Healy for Hughes (both 50); M Milne or Wycherley, N Murray for Baird, C Booth for McCann, D Adamson for Tierney-Martin (all 73).    

England - T de Glanville; O Sleightholme, F Dingwall (capt), C Redpath, T Seabrook; M Vunipola, O Fox; O Adkins, N Dolly, J Heyes; J Kpoku, A Coles; T Hill, A Hinkley, T Willis. Reps: J Hodge for Vunipola (16, temp); A Reed for Seabrook (55); R Tuima for Willis (63); K Owen for Adkins, R Capstick for Coles, N Dolly for Sleightholme (all 68).

Ref - D Murphy (AUS).

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