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Ireland U-18 Clubs Side Well Beaten By England

Ireland U-18 Clubs Side Well Beaten By England

In sunny conditions on a beautiful playing surface at Old Merchant Taylors School on Saturday, the Ireland Under-18 Clubs team suffered a defeat at the hands of the England U-18 Clubs And Schools side.

England, with a strong wind at their backs, capitalised on the visitors' mistakes to punish this young Ireland side at every opportunity.

Ireland started brightly using the ball well but a dropped pass on the halfway line led to England pressure and when Wayne Mitchell's charges infringed at the breakdown, Louis Grimoldy landed his first penalty in the fourth minute.

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Ireland then failed to find touch with a defensive clearance and England ran the ball back. Strong defence kept them at bay but from a lineout the home side moved the ball quickly into midfield and centre Henry Purdy cut through some weak tackling to score near the posts.

The ensuing conversion was added by Grimoldy to give England a 10-0 advantage with only eight minutes on the clock.

Further England pressure kept the Irish in their own half for a long period, but then Ireland captain Jack O'Donoghue relieved the pressure with a powerful run to take play deep into the English half.

Ireland were awarded a penalty and following a good lineout take, they moved the ball into midfield where impressive centre Fergal Cleary sidestepped his way through the England defence to score a fine try.

He narrowly missed the conversion, leaving England with a 10-5 lead midway through the first half. Ireland lost flanker Killian Sweeney to injury – he was replaced by Frankie Taggart.

England made good use of the wind to keep Ireland under pressure and two further penalties from Grimoldy – one from the halfway line – saw them stretch their lead to 16-5 by half-time.

England began the second half strongly and were rewarded with a drop goal by out-half Grimoldby. Soon after, a speculative kick ahead led to England regathering the ball to score a try through replacement Luke Jones. Grimoldby added the extras for a 26-5 scoreline.

Despite strong play by lock John Madigan, back rower O’Donoghue and some excellent running by Cleary, Ireland were under constant pressure from an well-drilled England team who were providing a large home crowd with some thrilling rugby.

To Ireland's credit, they continued to work hard in defence. However, two further tries, the second of which was an excellent individual effort by talented full-back Max Stelling, saw England emerge as comfortable 28-point winners.

Ireland scored a consolation try through Madigan's second row partner Russell Blair after some excellent forward drives.

This was a disappointing end to the Ireland U-18 Clubs squad's International season, leaving them without a win in their three matches against Italy, France and England.

But the positive that can be taken from the campaign is that there are a number of talented players in the squad who will move on to play at Under-19 and Under-20 level and in the professional game during the coming years.

Referee: Charles Samson (Scotland)