Jump to main content


PWC logo

Ireland Under-20s Beaten By Clinical England Side

Ireland Under-20s Beaten By Clinical England Side

The Ireland Under-20s took the game to the hosts for long spells but got little reward as England produced a clinical display of finishing at Franklin’s Gardens.


England stormed ahead on the back of Maro Itoje's opportunist fifth-minute try, with Billy Burns converting and sandwiching in two penalties for a 13-0 head start.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

But Ireland began to make inroads in the second quarter, profiting from Ross Byrne's control at out-half and a rewarding scrum.

The angled running of Peter Robb was another notable factor as out-half Byrne knocked over three penalties after missing his first attempt.

With the gap down to 16-9 for half-time it was all to play for, but once again England capitalised to score an early try on the restart with Northampton's own Howard Packman put over on the left wing.

Mike Ruddock's youngsters built a considerable amount of pressure in response with the likes of Nick McCarthy, replacement Harrison Brewer and Adam Byrne all going close to that elusive try.

England also had to cope with a series of defensive scrums near their line, however they stood firm and closed out a runaway victory with further tries from Nick Tompkins and Joel Conlon.

Ireland had to make significant changes to their squad before this round 3 fixture, with a shoulder injury ruling Sean O'Brien out. The experienced Peadar Timmins moved to lock and debutant Michael Triggs was promoted from the bench.

Unfortunately, Triggs' first appearance at this level lasted only four minutes as he fell awkwardly and injured his right leg when tackling James Chisolm. His Lansdowne club-mate Stephen Gardiner came on in his place.

England won a penalty at the ensuing ruck and out-half Burns kicked them into an early 3-0 lead.

Ireland fell further behind just a minute later as despite Burns being charged down in the 22, the hosts managed to attack from deep against a narrow Irish defence.

England counter rucked in the visitors' 22, forcing the ball loose and big lock Itoje beat McCarthy to touch down to the left of the posts. Television match official Iain Ramage gave the thumbs-up to the try and Burns converted.

The England number 10 added a crisply-struck penalty for a 13-0 advantage and Ireland, who were on the defensive for most of the first 12 minutes, had yet to have an attack of note.

The visitors fired their first shot when Ross Byrne's inviting garryowen was gathered by winger Adam Byrne over halfway, and the former followed up with a nicely threaded touchfinder.

Full-back David Busby soon offered himself as an attacking threat and an advancing scrum in the English 22 was another positive sign, however Byrne's resulting penalty from the right went narrowly wide.

Good pressure from Dan Goggin as he chased a kick led to another bright spell from ever-improving Ireland, and Byrne made no mistake with his second penalty kick in the 21st minute.

Powerful forwards Itoje and Conlon set up a response from Burns, but Ireland were growing in stature and retaining possession in more advanced positions.

Bustling centre Robb came in on an angle to puncture the first line of defence with Cian Kelleher and Goggin also involved.

Ross Byrne found a gap and the supporting Busby was tackled before he received the pass in sight of the try-line – referee Lloyd Linton might have opted for a yellow card but England kept their full complement and Byrne duly converted the penalty.

Place-kicker Byrne, who was now pulling the strings in open play, added another penalty on the half hour mark to reduce the arrears to seven points.

A penalty-winning scrum, allied to a bulldozing run from Robb, kept Ireland on the front foot. Their solid set piece structures helped them turn the possession statistics in their favour (67% to 33%).

Prop Peter Dooley also made an impact when stepping in to intercept a Harry Thacker pass after the English hooker had threatened from a quick dropout.

Although England ended the first half on the attack, a successful choke tackle, some muscular defending of a maul and a well-timed hit by Adam Byrne ensured Ireland went in at the interval with a spring in their step.

But just as they did in the opening half, England were first off the mark on the restart. After Goggin went close to claiming an intercept, Nathan Earle countered to good effect and he released man-of-the-match Packman to finish past the covering Dooley.

Burns was unable to convert from the left wing and Ireland bounced back with a good period of hard running and precise handling as Robb and captain Dan Leavy looked dangerous around the fringes.

McCarthy – from his own sniping break – and Dooley were both hauled down just short of the English whitewash, but just as Ireland's push for a try gained pace centre Goggin unfortunately knocked on as he took a quick tap.

Back came Ireland with Kelleher scampering through on the right. Dooley added his weight to the attack and Brewer – another debutant introduced by Ruddock – tested the English defence in sight of the line.

Ross Byrne spread the ball to the left where there looked to be enough space for winger Adam Byrne to squeeze over, however Callum Braley and Tompkins somehow got under the ball and prevented the try.

England managed to lift the siege after defending a series of scrums close to their line and a quick-witted break from replacement scrum half Henry Taylor led to their third try of the night.

Having had to flood back in defence, Ireland were caught out by clever Burns kick in the 58th minute and centre Tompkins raced onto the ball to dot down. Burns added the extras for 28-9.

Ireland suffered another injury blow when skipper Leavy, who put in a huge shift over the first hour, damaged his right shoulder and was replaced by Joe Joyce.

England had more possession and territory as the minutes ticked by and Ireland continued to defend doggedly, holding up a maul drive over their line.

But the English forwards made sure they finished the match in the ascendancy as they sent the Irish scrum backwards and flanker Conlon plunged over for a 68th minute try.

It put a flattering gloss on the final scoreline, but Ireland – despite that character-building recovery and a wholehearted 80-minute performance – were left to rue those missed try-scoring chances as they fell to their second successive Championship defeat.

TIME LINE: 4 minutes – England penalty: Billy Burns – 3-0; 5 mins – England try: Maro Itoje – 8-0; conversion: Billy Burns – 10-0; 11 mins – England penalty: Billy Burns – 13-0; 19 mins – Ireland penalty: missed by Ross Byrne – 13-0; 21 mins – Ireland penalty: Ross Byrne – 13-3; 23 mins – England penalty: Billy Burns – 16-3; 26 mins – Ireland penalty: Ross Byrne – 16-6; 30 mins – Ireland penalty: Ross Byrne – 16-9; Half-time – England 16 Ireland 9; 45 mins – England try: Howard Packman – 21-9; conversion: missed by Billy Burns – 21-9; 58 mins – England try: Nick Tompkins – 26-9; conversion: Billy Burns – 28-9; 68 mins – England try: Joel Conlon – 33-9; conversion: missed by Sam Olver – 33-9; Full-time – England 33 Ireland 9

Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)