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Ireland Under-20s Gain Revenge On England

Ireland Under-20s Gain Revenge On England

The Ireland Under-20s ensured their best ever finish at an IRB Junior World Championship with a pulsating play-off win over England in Cape Town.

Video Highlights – Ireland U-20s 27 England U-20s 12

Mike Ruddock’s side will face France in Friday's fifth-sixth place play-off after beating the reigning Six Nations champions at the third time of asking.

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England have been the only team Ireland have lost to at this level in 2012, losing the Grand Slam decider in March and being turned over in the pool stages of this tournament last week.

But revenge was sweet for Niall Scannell and his team-mates this evening as three converted tries saw them deservedly finish on top.

JJ Hanrahan converted first half efforts from Barry Daly and Iain Henderson and added a penalty to give the Irish a 17-0 buffer at the break.

England captain Chris Walker responded for his side just two minutes into the second half, but Ireland knuckled down and worked hard to stave off a comeback.

Hanrahan settled nerves with a 57th minute penalty and indiscipline led to Walker and Marland Yarde being sin-binned for England within nine minutes of each other.

Confident and composed in possession and tigerish in defence throughout, Ireland sewed it up in the 73rd minute when Jordan Coghlan ran in a breakaway score.

Conditions were much improved from the sides’ most recent meeting in Stellenbosch last week, and Ireland welcomed back some key players who sat out the bonus point win over Italy.

However, they got to a rocky start with Will Addison slashing his way through the Irish midfield and Peter Nelson had to react smartly to bring him down short of the try-line.

Ireland regained their poise with a half-break from the dangerous Foster Horan and he linked on the right with Nelson who put too much on his kick through.

But they kept up that threat with the strong-running Chris Farrell and Horan posing problems. Horan's wing colleague Daly joined in on the act in the eighth minute, intercepting a long pass over halfway and he had the pace to make the line for the opening try.

Hanrahan converted for a 7-0 lead and the Scannell-led pack soon took up the baton, performing the choke tackle to very good effect and winning turnover ball.

England erred when turning down a long range kick at the posts, Coghlan storming his way back into the English half as Ireland pressed again.

All did not look well in the English ranks when they leaked a second try on the quarter hour mark.

They put pressure on Jack Conan and Kieran Marmion at the back of a scrum but the latter stepped onto his left and raced through a gap to launch a devastating attack.

Marmion was backed up by great support and hands from locks Alan O’Connor and Tadhg Beirne, with powerhouse flanker Henderson taking Beirne’s final pass to plunge over under the posts.

It was clinical stuff from Ireland and all at breakneck speed. Hanrahan stabbed the conversion over from close range, stretching the margin to 14 points.

England had pulled off a second half comeback in the pool clash, but Ireland had learnt their lessons from that game and kept their foot on the gas.

Great harrying from Des Merrey and Beirne forced England backwards at the midpoint of the half, and full-back Ben Ransom had to make a hurried clearance.

Big tackles followed from Scannell and Henderson as England’s error count rose, their scrum unable to pressurise Ireland and a loose pass out wide spoilt a promising attack.

Hanrahan popped a 35th minute penalty through the posts to punish an English offside, and a degree of niggle crept into the game as half-time approached.

Henderson was yellow carded for taking a player out in the air and England’s numerical advantage helped them hit back just after the resumption.

76 seconds into the second period, replacement Marland Yarde made an immediate impact with a powerful run and Ryan Mills’ looping pass put Walker over in the left corner.

Henry Slade could not convert though, and Ireland were undeterred. Hanrahan had a drop goal attempt blocked and pushed a penalty to the right and wide.

The breakdown battle was fiercely competitive and referee Leighton Hodges warned both sides about their ruck play. England paid the price on the hour when after successive penalties, Walker was pinged for not rolling away and dispatched to the sin-bin.

Hanrahan held his nerve to convert the resulting kick and widen the gap to 20-5. Back came England, retaining possession well and Henderson did brilliantly to hold up the strongly-built Billy Vunipola over the try-line.

Having suffered a disappointing defeat to South Africa last time out, England were under pressure to deliver here and their frustration was obvious as Ireland continued to hold command.

Ireland’s suffocating defence kept them at bay and winger Yarde lashed out in an off-the-ball incident to earn a yellow card.

With the London Irish flyer off the pitch, Ireland sealed the victory with another clever piece of attacking play.

Play-maker Hanrahan, one of the tournament’s top scorers, hung up a cross-field kick onto Yarde’s exposed wing and flanker Coghlan showed admirable pace late in the game to charge onto the bouncing ball and scoot over to the left of the posts.

Hanrahan kicked the conversion to complete his 12-point personal haul. England fought on and gained scant consolation in the form of a Slade seven-pointer.

But there was no denying Ruddock’s superbly-drilled charges, who added the scalp of England to South Africa and are now guaranteed to eclipse Ireland’s previous best JWC finish of eighth.

TIME LINE: 8 minutes – Ireland try: Barry Daly – 5-0; conversion: JJ Hanrahan – 7-0; 16 mins – Ireland try: Iain Henderson – 12-0; conversion: JJ Hanrahan – 14-0; 35 mins – Ireland penalty: JJ Hanrahan – 17-0; 39 mins – Ireland yellow card: Iain Henderson; Half-time – Ireland 17 England 0; 42 mins – England try: Chris Walker – 17-5; conversion: missed by Henry Slade – 17-5; 54 mins – Ireland penalty: missed by JJ Hanrahan – 17-5; 57 mins – England yellow card: Chris Walker; 57 mins – Ireland penalty: JJ Hanrahan – 20-5; 66 mins – England yellow card: Marland Yarde; 73 mins – Ireland try: Jordan Coghlan – 25-5; conversion: JJ Hanrahan – 27-5; 75 mins – England try: Henry Slade – 27-10; conversion: Henry Slade – 27-12; 79 mins – Ireland penalty: missed by Jack Carty – 27-12; Full-time – Ireland 27 England 12

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)