A dismal day for Irish rugby ended on a frustrating note on Saturday evening when Ireland's hopes of an U-20 Six Nations title suffered a massive blow against the reigning champions.
Ireland never looked like winning this contest, even though they recovered somewhat from a disastrous opening, but a failure to convert chances and a lesson from England in how to turn possession into scores proved decisive.
Coach Mike Ruddock has enjoyed little good fortune so far in this campaign with most of the 50-50 calls going against his men, while an injury list which included key forwards Sean O'Brien and Jack O'Donoghue was extended when debutant flanker Michael Triggs suffered a leg injury after just three minutes.
"You obviously set out to try and win the Six Nations but you also need to build a squad to bring to the World Cup, while you also need to try out players at this level and help them develop," Ruddock said. "And I saw enough in this game, despite the scoreline, to suggest that these boys can play some good rugby.
"We just need them to be more clinical and, if I'm honest, I think we need to get the rub of the green and that has not happened in our last two matches."
Ireland failed to score a try for the second game in a row in the competition but three penalties from impressive out-half Ross Byrne got them back in contention after they fell 13-0 down after just eight minutes.
Ireland resumed control after the restart and looked set to wipe out the interval 16-9 deficit, but 14 phases inside the England half failed to yield a score, with hard-working winger Adam Byrne having a TMO decision against him in the left corner.
England broke to wrap up the issue when local Northampton winger Howard Packman scored and they added two more tries in the closing stages for a flattering win.
"England deserved their win, they were clinical and took their chances and we didn't, and we didn't deserve to win," added Ruddock afterwards.
"However, I was pleased with a lot of aspects of our game, our intent to play and the continuity and at times we were very close to them.
"I don't think the scoreline reflected how tight the game was. There were many things which just didn't bounce our way."
England – N Earle (H Purdy 46); Z Kibirige, N Tompkins, H Sloan, H Packman; B Burns (S Olver 60), C Braley (H Taylor 54); A Lundberg (D Hobbs-Awoyemi 50), H Thacker (J Walker 50), S Wilson; M Itoje (P Hill 78), C Ewels; R Moriarty, J Conlon, J Chisholm.
Ireland – D Busby (C McKeon 60); C Kelleher (J Cullen 75), D Goggin (H Brewer 50), P Robb, A Byrne; R Byrne, N McCarthy; P Dooley (D Coulson 60), M Abbott (S McNulty 60), R Burke (O Heffernan 69); P Timmins, R Molony; M Triggs (S Gardiner 3), D Leavy (J Joyce 65), F Taggart.
Ref – L Linton (Scotland).