12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
ENGLAND U-20s 10 IRELAND U-20s 25, Kingsholm, Gloucester RFC
Scorers: England U-20s: Try: Penalty try; Con: Freddie Burns; Pen: Freddie Burns
Ireland U-20s: Tries: Andrew Conway 2, Darren Hudson; Cons: James McKinney 2; Pens: James McKinney, Brian Kingston
England's Under-20s, the RBS U-20 6 Nations leaders after the opening two rounds, were sent crashing back to earth as a trio of first half tries set Allen Clarke's Ireland side on their way to a deserved away win.
In the build-up to this game, Clarke had talked about his players learning from the mistakes they made in failing to overcome a French outfit, last time out, that looked to be there for the taking.
The Irish management kept faith will the side that fell to a 20-15 defeat in Mazamet and they produced the goods at Kingsholm, the home of Gloucester Rugby, to record one of the best wins in Irish age grade rugby history.
This year's title race took two fascinating twists tonight as both table toppers England and second-placed France lost for the first time in 2010. The French fell 43-8 to a rampant Wales at Cardiff Arms Park.
That result, coupled with events in Kingsholm, means Ireland are the new leaders of the U-20 Championship, on points difference, followed closely by England and Wales, who are the next opponents for Clarke's youngsters in Athlone on Friday, March 12 (kick-off 7.35pm).
England enjoyed the better of territory at Kingsholm but Rhys Ruddock and his forward colleagues dominated the breakdown, snaffling a number of crucial turnovers and putting in some telling tackles as they continually frustrated the highly-rated hosts.
Out wide, the Irish put their fast-finishing backs to good use as they showed a clinical touch that was unfortunately missing in their most recent outing against France.
The visitors fell behind in the 15th minute as England opened well and out-half Freddie Burns, a Gloucester favourite, kicked his only penalty of the tie.
But Ireland hit back, five minutes later, when Burns lost the ball in contact and Ireland full-back Andrew Conway took his chance to counter with aplomb, exposing an out-of-position English rearguard to race over and score his first try from distance. Out-half James McKinney added the extras.
Ireland lost Conway's Leinster colleague Dominic Ryan to the sin-bin for killing the ball, soon afterwards.
However, the visitors kept the scoreboard ticking through the boot of McKinney, who landed a 29th minute penalty from 40 metres, and an opportunist try from winger Darren Hudson.
The try came as winger Jonny May tried to pull off an unlikely chip and chase out of the English 22, big centre Brendan Macken gathered the ball and offloaed to Hudson who duly ran in his fourth try of the Championship, with McKinney kicking the conversion.
England landed their first real blow of the contest when their forwards cranked up some serious pressure at set piece time and they carved out a penalty try when they went for a pushover close to the Irish line.
Burns added the simple conversion but again Ireland showed great resolve and adventure, just a minute before half-time, when England were caught out of position and a blindside snipe led to Conway's second try which moved the score out to 22-10 at the break.
Off a scrum just inside their own half, Ireland worked a three-on-one overlap. Hudson took the ball on at speed and broke into the 22 before chipping ahead and the onrushing Conway won the race to the ball, gleefully grounding the ball in the corner.
England could not turn pressure into points in the third quarter and Nevin Spence got Ireland on the move again, slashing his way through midfield before a high tackle from full-back Jack Wallace reduced England to 14 players.
The Irish management emptied the replacements bench as tired bodies gave way but the high level of effort and intensity was maintained and demanded by the likes of Ruddock, Macken, David O'Callaghan and replacements Brian Kingston and Brian Hayes.
In a nervy finish, the Irish youngsters were able to hold the hosts at arm's length, intelligently kicking for position and soaking up the pressure before Kingston crowned the win with a penalty, five minutes from time.
Winger Simon Zebo saw yellow in the last minute but there was no way back for England as Ireland claimed their third victory over the 'auld enemy' at U-20 level in the space of four years.
ENGLAND U-20: Jack Wallace (London Wasps); Will Hurrell (Leicester Tigers), Jonathan Joseph (London Irish), Tom Casson (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester); Freddie Burns (Gloucester), Sam Harrison (Leicester Tigers); Lee Imiolek (Sale Sharks), Jamie George (Saracens), Shaun Knight (Gloucester), Danny Wright (Gloucester), Charlie Matthews (Harlequins), Jackson Wray (Saracens), Jacob Rowan (Leeds Carnegie) (capt), Alex Gray (Newcastle Falcons).
Replacements used: Joe Marler (Harlequins) for Imiolek, Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons) for Knight (both 50 mins), Jake Sharp (Saracens) for Burns (53), Christian Wade (London Wasps) for May (58), George Kruis (Saracens) for Wright (64), Jordi Pasqualin (Gloucester) for Harrison (68). Arthur Ellis (London Wasps) for George (73).
IRELAND U-20: Andrew Conway (Blackrock College/Leinster); Darren Hudson (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Brendan Macken (Blackrock College/Leinster), Nevin Spence (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster); James McKinney (Queen's University/Ulster), John Cooney (UCD/Leinster); Bryan Cagney (UCC/Munster), Niall Annett (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Jack O'Connell (Lansdowne/Leinster), David O'Callaghan (UCC/Munster), Ben Marshall (UCD/Leinster), Rhys Ruddock (UCD/Leinster) (capt), Dominic Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Patrick Butler (Shannon/Munster).
Replacements used: Brian Kingston (Blackrock College/Leinster) for McKinney (50 mins), Stewart Maguire (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for O'Connell, Brian Hayes (Cork Constitution/Munster) for Marshall (both 63), Michael Heaney (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) for Cooney (67), Duncan Casey (Shannon/Munster) for Annett (68), Eoin Griffin (Corinthians/Connacht) for Macken (79). Not used: Robin O'Sullivan (Bective Rangers/Leinster).
Referee: Stefano Pennè (Italy)
|England U20s Score Card|
|Ireland U20s Score Card|