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Ireland U-18 Clubs Side Come Out On Top

Ireland U-18 Clubs Side Come Out On Top

Brett Connon kicked 20 points and Conor Farrell scored two tries as the Ireland Under-18 Clubs team rounded off the Three Nations tournament in Marcoussis with a fine victory over the England Under-18 Clubs and Schools side.

It is the second year in-a-row that Ireland have beaten England at this level, with the Wayne Mitchell-coached youngsters following up on last season's 30-15 success in Ashbourne.

Backs Sam Arnold and Conor O'Brien, who both played in the 2013 game, missed the rematch through injury with O'Brien unfortunately tearing his hamstring during last Saturday's 7-3 loss to France.

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Ireland were back in action at the French National Rugby Centre on Wednesday, determined to make up for conceding a late try to the tournament hosts.

They produced a comprehensive display against England, winning a series of penalties for their impressive out-half Brett Connon to convert. He landed five from five attempts in the opening half.

The Exiles player opened the scoring after two minutes when England number 8 Alex Brown went off his feet at the breakdown.

However, three minutes later Ireland were penalised for a similar indiscretion and Harry Sheppard slotted over a 30-metre kick to bring England level.

Connon made it 6-3 in the eighth minute, but England found space out wide and full-back Charlie Dockery ran in a converted try in response.

Ireland knuckled down under the influence of number 8 and captain Neil Reilly, as England's indiscipline cost them leading up to half-time.

Some combative play from Mitchell's side saw them win a succession of penalties and the ever-accurate Connon split the posts on three more occasions.

However, England replied just before the break with a second converted try while Reilly was in the sin-bin.

Ireland were quick to overturn a 17-15 half-time deficit as Connon stepped up to land another penalty two minutes into the second half.

They soon enjoyed a purple patch during which openside flanker Conor Farrell, who had an outstanding game, struck for two tries in the space of five minutes.

Hooker Adam McBurney was on target in the lineout and it was this reliable platform that launched most of the Irish attacks.

Reilly and locks Sean O'Leary and Hugh Sloan charged through the heart of the English defence and props Ben Betts and Philip Poillot mauled up to the English line.

Farrell's finishing skills came to the fore as Ireland scored twice from close range, with Connon adding one conversion to complete his handsome 20-point haul.

England's only response was an unconverted try, their third of the afternoon, but Ireland held on in determined fashion to record an eight-point victory.

Speaking afterwards, delighted head coach Wayne Mitchell said: “We made more mistakes this week than when we lost to France by only four points, but we were strong in the set pieces and I was impressed by the work-rate of our players throughout.”

Team manager Tom Nyhan added: “With five players qualifying for this team again next season we will have this experience going into next year's tournament, which will be hosted by England.”