The Ireland Under-18 Schools side matched their English counterparts on try count in their final U-18 Six Nations festival game in Glasgow, but a 13-point kicking contribution from Newcastle’s Rob Miller proved crucial as England ran out 23-12 winners.
UNDER-18 SIX NATIONS FESTIVAL: Saturday, April 14
IRELAND U-18 SCHOOLS 12 ENGLAND U-18 23, Burnbrae RFC, Glasgow
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Matthew Healy, Peter O’Mahony; Con: Ronan O’Mahony
England: Tries: Greig Tonks, Luke Eves; Cons: Rob Miller 2; Pens: Rob Miller 3
Following their wins over Italy and France, Peter Melia’s Ireland side entered this game with plenty of confidence and it showed – Blackrock’s Ian Madigan was narrowly wide with a drop goal attempt after only two minutes.
Although England did take the lead through a 13th-minute penalty from Rob Miller, the Irish pack got on top for the remainder of the first half and grabbed their first try shortly before the break when Gonzaga scrum half Matthew Healy plunged over from close range, after a neat catch and drive effort off a lineout.
Madigan missed the conversion as Ireland led 5-3 at the break, but their lead could and should have been healthier. Credit must go to the English defence as Ireland had enough territory and possession to put more points on the board.
They did manage to get their try while English lock Calum Clark was in the sin-bin, however it was the team in white that made the better start to the second half. Restored to 15 players, England nosed into a 6-5 lead courtesy of a 42nd-minute penalty from Miller.
The game slowly began to slip from Ireland’s grasp as England’s pacy backs made use of the minimal space they were afforded. Full-back Greig Tonks did well to dot down for Miller to convert and a seven-pointer from centre Luke Eves pushed Chris Kibble’s well-drilled outfit 20-5 ahead.
Ireland then reduced the arrears back to eight points, while England had a second player yellow carded – this time prop James Currie was the offender. Another lineout attack saw the Irish in for a converted try in the 76th-minute. Fittingly, Irish skipper and number eight Peter O’Mahony, who never stopped working, was credited with the score.
Replacement Ronan O’Mahony added the extras to his namesake’s try, yet there was still time for England to have the final say with a third penalty from Miller.
Wales’ surprise 20-13 defeat to Scotland – the Scots’ first win in nine meetings in this competition with their Celtic rivals – meant all four home nations finished out the tournament with two wins from three games. France’s 34-7 success against Italy today was their only victory.
Ireland U-18 Schools: David Kearney (Clongowes Wood College); Robert Johnson (Blackrock College), Richard Reaney (Royal School Armagh), Shane Gahan (Gonzaga College), Andrew Burke (Crescent CC); Ian Madigan (Blackrock College), Matthew Healy (Gonzaga College); Patrick McAllister (Royal School Armagh), Peter Kelleher (PBC Cork), Adam Macklin (Methodist College Belfast), James Sandford (Royal School Armagh), Stephen Mahony (St. Michael’s College), Alex Byrne (St. Michael’s College), Brian O’Hara (PBC Cork), Peter O’Mahony (PBC Cork) (capt).
Replacements: Thomas Sexton (Belvedere College), Nermin Lovic (Belvedere College), Felix Ross (The Kings Hospital), Patrick McGowan (Ballymena Academy), Sam Bell (Methodist College Belfast), Ronan O’Mahony (Castletroy CC), Chris Nolan (CBC Cork), Mark Atkinson (Grosvenor Grammar), Ricky Andrew (Ballymena Academy), Kyle O’Dwyer (CBC Cork), James Ryan (Rockwell College).
England U-18: Greig Tonks; Charlie Sharples, Jack Cobden, Luke Eves, Henry Trinder; Rob Miller, Oliver Frost; Ben Moon, Tom Collett, Alex Brown, Graham Kitchener, Calum Clark, Carl Fearns (capt), Jacob Rowan, Mike Macfarlane.
Replacements: Joseph Marler, James Clark, James Currie, Courtney Lawes, David Lewis, Mike Stanley, Tom Sargeant, Ben Williams, Sebastian Stegmann, Mark Davies, Dan Williams.