The Ireland Under-20s blitzed England with 20 unanswered second half points to claim a famous 26-20 win at Newcastle’s Kingston Park tonight.
Ireland's first away victory over England at this level since 2010 was set up by a run of tries from captain James Ryan (48 minutes), Matthew Byrne (53) and Andrew Porter (67) and five points from Brett Connon's boot.
Nigel Carolan's side turned this U-20 RBS 6 Nations tie on its head having trailed 20-6, with England's first half tries coming from Sam Smith and George Perkins.
The hosts had been good value for their lead on the all-weather surface, but Ireland, who had been guilty of sloppy second half displays against Wales and France, gradually wore them down with skipper Ryan a very deserving man-of-the-match.
In a tense conclusion, Ryan's excellent one-handed offload sent prop Porter crashing over to put Ireland in front for the first time. The latter was the victim of a tip tackle that saw England replacement Stan South sent-off in the 74th minute and replacement Connon slotted the resulting three-pointer to seal the result.
Ireland's first success of the 2016 Championship seemed a long away off in the early stages. Sharp English out-half Mathew Protheroe almost put Perkins away on the right wing and a dominant first scrum earned Jon Callard's charges a penalty.
England displayed great power and control from the resulting fourth-minute lineout maul to give flanker Smith a simple finish at the back of the drive, with Protheroe also converting crisply.
Handling errors let Ireland down as they twice got into the hosts' 22, although there were positive signs as Shane Daly, Conor O'Brien and Cillian Gallagher gained good yardage in the initial phases.
Injury unfortunately forced Jack Power off in the eighth minute, with Terenure College clubman Byrne coming onto the wing and Hugo Keenan reverting to the full-back position.
Better continuity off scrum half Stephen Kerins' snappy deliveries led to a penalty on the 10-metre line which Johnny McPhillips drilled over in confident fashion for 7-3.
From a similar position, the Ireland out-half nudged a 42-metre effort to the right and wide after England lock George Nott had interfered with Kerins at the back of a ruck.
But England went up a gear when the fleet-footed Protheroe dummied past Conan O'Donnell and Jimmy O'Brien on halfway, accelerated away from the cover tackle and passed on the 22-metre line for Perkins to run in under the posts.
The conversion was added by Protheroe and the sight of centre O'Brien being helped off following the next phase was a further setback for Ireland.
The Irish pack strengthened their scrum, though, providing the platform in the build-up to McPhillips' second successful penalty from long range, 27 minutes in.
Ireland had the better of possession leading up to the half-time, with English indiscipline at ruck time giving McPhillips another sight of goal. However, the Ulster Academy player missed a difficult 36th minute kick from distance.
Protheroe did likewise at the other end, but the white shirts flooded forward past the 40-minute mark and with prop O'Donnell seeing yellow for 'cynically' playing the ball at an English ruck, Protheroe took the three points on offer to make it 17-6 at the interval.
They kept the scoreboard ticking over with a Protheroe drop goal on the resumption, although the numbers were soon evened up when English openside Smith was binned for side-entry at a maul.
From then on, Ireland looked a different outfit. After a Gallagher-won lineout, the maul was set 10 metres out and Ryan spotted some space off the side to dive over for his second try in as many games. McPhillips' radar was off with the conversion from the left.
England's play was becoming scrappier and following another offside, McPhillips plunged a penalty towards the left corner. The home pack managed to disrupt the maul, but the Irish backs exploited a gap on the right as Conor O'Brien and Connon released Byrne to finish superbly in the right corner past two despairing defenders.
Newcastle's own Connon took on the difficult touchline conversion and swung it over with aplomb, reducing the arrears to 20-18 with 54 minutes on the clock.
A TMO decision favoured Ireland as England skipper Callum Chick had a try ruled out near the right corner – it was a very marginal call – and it took some gritty defence to thwart the powerful England pack twice on the opposite side of the pitch.
With possession won back, Ireland intelligently angled their maul to open up space on the blindside for a clearing kick downfield and the bout of English pressure was finally relieved.
Shortly afterwards, the increasingly influential Kerins sparked a lively diagonal break out to the left that saw centre Daly reach the English 22. Ireland kept themselves on the front foot and second row Ryan expertly drew in two defenders and offloaded out of the tackle for the supporting Porter to charge over from close range.
It was a fantastically-created third try from the Irish youngsters who really had the bit between their teeth now. A hold-up to check for English foul play did not help place-kicker Connon who slid his attempt wide, leaving it delicately poised at 23-20.
However, Ireland maintained an infectiously high work-rate, particularly the forwards, and a tremendous choke tackle from the tireless Porter and Peter Claffey helped to secure a crucial turnover in their own 22.
Playing an advantage, a splendid attack straight from a McPhillips chip and a subsequent dink out to the right from Daly almost played in winger Byrne for his second try – Ollie Thorley rescued the situation for England with a well-timed cover tackle.
Staring at a very rare home defeat, the English side suffered a further blow when South was dismissed by referee Tual Trainini following the input of TMO Philippe Bonhoure.
Connon, who plays for the local Falcons, stepped up on his home pitch to give Ireland a six-point cushion and as the English errors continued to mount, Carolan's young guns – bolstered by the strong-carrying Kelvin Brown – closed out the game from a final rock-solid scrum.
TIME LINE: 4 minutes – England try: Sam Smith – 5-0; conversion: Mathew Protheroe – 7-0; 16 mins – Ireland penalty: Johnny McPhillips – 7-3; 19 mins – Ireland penalty: missed by Johnny McPhillips – 7-3; 20 mins – England try: George Perkins – 12-3; conversion: Mathew Protheroe – 14-3; 27 mins – Ireland penalty: Johnny McPhillips – 14-6; 36 mins – Ireland penalty: missed Johnny McPhillips – 14-6; 40 mins – England penalty: missed by Mathew Protheroe – 14-6; 40+1 mins – Ireland yellow card: Conan O'Donnell; 40+2 mins – England penalty: Mathew Protheroe – 17-6; Half-time – England 17 Ireland 6; 42 mins – England drop goal: Mathew Protheroe – 20-6; 45 mins – England yellow card: Sam Smith; 48 mins – Ireland try: James Ryan – 20-11; conversion: missed by Johnny McPhillips – 20-11; 53 mins – Ireland try: Matthew Byrne – 20-16; conversion: Brett Connon – 20-18; 67 mins – Ireland try: Andrew Porter – 20-23; conversion: missed by Brett Connon – 20-23; 74 mins – England red card: Stan South; 75 mins – Ireland penalty: Brett Connon – 20-26; Full-time – England 20 Ireland 26
Referee: Tual Trainini (France)