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Ireland U-18 Clubs & Schools Side Claim Second Victory Over England
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Ireland U-18 Clubs & Schools Side Claim Second Victory Over England

Ireland U-18 Clubs & Schools Side Claim Second Victory Over England

A flying two-try finish paid dividends for the Ireland Under-18 Clubs & Schools team as they recorded their second win in the space of four days against England U-18 Counties at Ashbourne RFC.

Ireland were 29-17 winners at the same venue on Wednesday, and despite falling behind to tries from John Kenward and Alexander Burrage, the hosts proved stronger in the second half as Kieran Dunne, Colin Sisk and Cian Huxford all touched down.

With both teams making a total of nine changes to their starting line-ups – Bandon Grammar School prop Ashley Deane started for Ireland after being an unused replacement in the midweek match – it did take a while for today's encounter to settle down.

After full-back Aaron O'Sullivan, Ireland's two-try hero in the opening game, was forced into touch in the 13th-minute, Mark Butler's youngsters found themselves on the back foot for an extended spell. Under pressure from a Burrage pass, England centre Samuel Stott knocked forward with the try-line in sight, but the Counties selection subsequently broke the deadlock just two minutes later.

Out-half Burrage went for touch from a close range penalty, and following neat interplay between Dominic Groom and Benjamin Atkins, hooker John Kenward dotted down in clinical fashion. Burrage was off target with a tricky conversion attempt, but the visitors continued to dominate possession as the first half wore on.

Burrage had another opportunity from the tee on 21 minutes, and from a distance of 40 metres, he made no mistake for an 8-0 lead. Despite struggling to break up the English momentum, a well-struck touchfinder from captain Bruce Houston on the half hour mark paved the way for Ireland's opening try.

With hooker Sean Molony leading their charge, the Irish forwards developed a maul inside the English 22, and via a neat pass by scrum half Caolan Englefield, fellow Exiles player Dunne broke over to the left of the posts. This five-pointer from the Sale Sharks starlet was supplemented by Houston's conversion, reducing Ireland's deficit to the bare minimum.

A powerful counter-attack involving O'Sullivan, Oran McNulty and Conor Kelly almost yielded a second try before half-time, but the aforementioned Deane was squeezed out after receiving an offload from inside centre Kelly.

Butler sprung five players off the Irish bench in the 37th minute as his charges looked to build on their positive finish to the opening half. However, England enhanced their 8-7 advantage with a try on the 45-minute mark.

It looked like their chance was gone when Ireland halted their march for the whitewash on the left flank, but once the ball was transferred into a more central position, Burrage was able to touch down with relative ease. The Bishop Heber School student was unfortunate to see his third kick of the day rebound off the post and go wide.

Having shown impressive resilience as England pushed for a further try, Ireland were clinical as they hit back with a score of their own in the 60th minute. It came via another well-executed lineout maul, and after spotting a gap close to the line, replacement scrum half Sisk dived over for an unconverted effort.

With the scoreboard showing 13-12, this Easter Saturday clash was set for a grandstand finish in front of an appreciative crowd. Houston turned down a shot at the posts with four minutes remaining, instead punting to touch as Ireland backed themselves to force another try.

This proved to be an astute call as influential centre Dunne displayed great composure to break through and complete a fine brace of tries. That put Ireland in front for the first time and in addition to the extras added by Houston, flanker and Connacht U-18 Clubs captain Cian Huxford provided some late gloss with a neatly-taken try on the left.

Referee: Riccardo Angelucci (Italy)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Aaron O'Sullivan (Wasps/Henley College/Exiles); Tom Maher (Blackrock College/Leinster), Kieran Dunne (Sale Sharks/Exiles), Conor Kelly (CC Roscrea/Leinster), Oran McNulty (Bath/Millfield School/Exiles); Bruce Houston (Ballymena Academy/Ulster) (capt), Caolan Englefield (Harlequins/St. Paul's CC Sunbury/Exiles); Darragh Bolger (Clontarf FC/Portmarnock Community School/Leinster), Sean Molony (Blackrock College/Leinster), Ashley Deane (Bandon Grammar School/Munster); Conor McMenamin (Letterkenny RFC/Colaiste Ailigh/Ulster), Paddy Kelly (St. Munchin's College/Munster); Cian Huxford (Galway Corinthians Calasantius College/Connacht), Mark Fleming (Glenstal Abbey/Munster), Jamie Macartney (Campbell College/Ulster).

Replacements used: Oisin Kiernan (Campbell College/Ulster) for McMenamin (half-time), Jack McIntosh (St. Pius Xavier College/Rainey Old Boys/Ulster) for Deane, Colin Deane (Bandon Grammar School/Cork) for P Kelly, Colin Sisk (CBC Cork/Munster) for Englefield, Luke Fitzgerald (Young Munster/Glenstal Abbey/Munster) for C Kelly (all 37 mins), Jack Walters (London Irish/St. Paul's CC Sunbury/Exiles) for Bolger (47), Aaron Sexton (Bangor Grammar School/Ulster) for Maher (51), Callum Torpey (London Irish/Epsom College/Exiles) for Molony (70).

Away Team

Joseph Lane (King Henry VIII School/Warwickshire); Henry Pearson (Kirkham Grammar School/Lancashire), Thomas Wane (Eastbourne College/Sussex), Samuel Stott (Lancaster Royal Grammar School/Lancashire) (capt), Joseph Tresadern (Southam College/Warwickshire); Alexander Burrage (Bishop Heber School/Cheshire), Alexander Skinner (Reigate Grammar School/Surrey); Wade Williams (Sedbergh School/Lancashire), John Kenward (Princethorpe College/Leicestershire), Frederick Barnes (Cokethorpe School/Oxfordshire); Jack Granby (Runshaw College/Lancashire), Dominic Groom (English Martyrs Catholic School/Leicestershire); Benjamin Atkins (St. Paul's Catholic College/Berkshire), Cameron Terry (Cheltenham College/Gloucestershire), Edward Brown (Queen Ethelburga’s/Yorkshire).

Replacements used: Jake Clemson (Penwith College/Cornwall) for Groom (half-time), Cameron MacDonald (Farnborough College of Technology/Hampshire) for Wane (37 mins), Connor Johnson (Myerscough College/Lancashire) for Kenward, William Roberts (Lutterworth RFC/Leicestershire) for Williams (both 55), Samuel Pocklington (Queen Ethelburga’s/Yorkshire) for Skinner, Oliver Bee (Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth 1 College/Leicestershire) for Granby (both 62).

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Kieran Dunne 2, Colin Sisk, Cian Huxford; Cons: Bruce Houston 2

Away Team

Tries: John Kenward, Alexander Burrage; Pen: Alexander Burrage