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Ireland Club Side Edged Out By England Counties
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Ireland Club Side Edged Out By England Counties

Ireland Club Side Edged Out By England Counties

The Ireland Club team, sponsored by Ulster Bank, produced a battling display but England Counties proved too strong as they earned a 34-26 victory at Temple Hill last night.

This was the first meeting of Ireland's Ulster Bank League stars and England Counties since the Irish scored a dramatic 23-22 victory in Darlington three years ago thanks to a late David Joyce penalty.

This time around at the home of Cork Constitution FC, England, who showed the benefit of a recent outing against Scotland Clubs, ran in four tries with Morgan Lennon's Ireland Club XV, led by Cork native Scott Deasy, touching down three times in a lively encounter.

Clontarf flanker Karl Moran was one of Ireland's top performers on night, with replacements Rob Guerin (Young Munster) and Paddy Finlay (Dublin University), who scored a second half try, also catching the eye in a committed squad display. 

There were 10 points between the sides at the interval, English half-backs Joe Tarrant and Peter White (the man-of-the-match) both touching down during a bright opening spell. Lansdowne out-half Deasy sandwiched in a 21st minute penalty.

Ireland lifted their game and deservedly got over for a try nine minutes before half-time, an excellent unconverted effort from former skipper Matt D'Arcy, and their resurgent form gained a subsequent penalty which Deasy stuck over. However, they leaked a third try to centre Markus Burcham two minutes into injury-time and Tarrant's conversion widen the gap to 21-11.

Tarrant and Deasy swapped penalties and Ireland responded to a Leo Fielding seven-pointer when busy replacement Paul Pritchard, a member of last year's victorious Irish team in France, went over for a 63rd minute score that Deasy converted. It was back to a 10-point deficit and still all to play for.

Trinity hooker Finlay also had the desired impact off the bench with a well-taken try four minutes later. Deasy's conversion attempt came back off the post but Ireland were back within range at 31-26 down.

Crucially, the men in green could not add to their momentum and the English scrum wrestled back control for the visitors. Replacement James Williams' 78th-minute penalty sealed the result for the Counties outfit whose players are drawn from National League One and below.

Referee: Keith Allen (Scotland)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Eamonn Mills (Lansdowne); Sean Coughlan (Old Belvedere), Michael Courtney (Dublin University), Matt D'Arcy (Clontarf), Rob Jermyn (Cork Constitution); Scott Deasy (Lansdowne) (capt), Neil Cronin (Garryowen); Vakh Abdaladze (Clontarf), Max Abbott (Cork Constitution), Ian Prendiville (Lansdowne), Willie Earle (Lansdowne), Ben Reilly (Clontarf), Alan Kennedy (Young Munster), Karl Moran (Clontarf), Tony Ryan (Clontarf).

Replacements: Paddy Finlay (Dublin University), Ger Sweeney (Cork Constitution), Eric O'Sullivan (Dublin University), Kyle McCoy (Terenure College), Andrew O'Byrne (Garryowen), Paul Pritchard (Old Belvedere), Rob Guerin (Young Munster), Peter Osborne (Naas).

Away Team

Mike Wilcox (Hartpury/Gloucestershire); James Stokes (Coventry/Eastern Counties), Markus Burcham (Blackheath/Kent), Heath Stevens (Coventry/East Midlands), Leo Fielding (Blackheath/Gloucestershire); Joe Tarrant (Amptill/Eastern Counties), Pete White (Coventry/East Midlands); Trevor Davison (Blaydon/Durham), Matt Miles (Old Albanians/Hertfordshire), Dan Pullinger (Plymouth/Devon), George Oram (Birmingham Moseley/Kent), Nile Dacres (Plymouth/Devon), Keith Laughlin (Blaydon/Northumberland) (capt), Jack Preece (Birmingham Moseley/Gloucestershire), Tom Baldwin (Blackheath/Kent).

Replacements: Ted Stagg (Caldy/Cheshire), Hayden King (Old Albanian/Hertfordshire), James Litchfield (Coventry/Warwickshire), Jake Polledri (Hartpury/Gloucestershire), Harry Bate (Old Albanians/Hertfordshire), Dave Brazier (Birmingham Moseley/North Midlands), James Williams (Birmingham Moseley/Dorset & Wilts), Sam Baker (Ampthill/East Midlands).

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Matt D'Arcy, Paul Pritchard, Paddy Finlay; Con: Scott Deasy; Pens: Scott Deasy 3

Away Team

Tries: Joe Tarrant, Peter White, Markus Burcham, Leo Fielding; Cons: Joe Tarrant 4; Pens: Joe Tarrant, James Williams