Ireland’s difficult season in the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series ended on a high note with a late 37-36 win over England.
Despite the result, Ireland finished bottom in Pool A while England, who started the day third, made a try and lost a bonus point to lead them over France and into second place.
But it was a welcome win for Richie Murphy’s side after losing their first two games. Next Tuesday they play the losers Scotland and Georgia in the play-off for seventh place.
Ireland’s strong finish against South Africa promised a good start here, but within five minutes all hopes of a confident early lead were dashed.
George Hendy was the first to cross as Ireland ran out of defenders on their own line.
From a lineout drive, the ball found its way to England’s fly-half Fin Smith. The Worcester Warriors star almost let the ball slip away from him but just managed to find Iwan Stephens before slamming into full-back Hendy for the easiest finish.
It was soon two, with a result in the same corner, this time with Alex Harmes on his first start in the competition rolling home for the result.
A looping miss from Ethan Grayson gave Harmes free rein at the Irish line and referee Federico Vedovelli quickly waved off a forward pass.
But Ireland were quick to respond with England, who had tried to run the ball out of their own half from the restart.
Lorcan McLoughlin broke through two weak tackles before playing an easy inside ball with the center cross to Fionn Gibbons for his second try of the tournament.
The English defense was again found to be underpowered shortly after, allowing hooker James McCormick to score from close range with little resistance.
Sam Prendergast struck for the second time from the tee to take the score to 14-all after a chaotic opening quarter.
And a remarkable early turn came when a penalty try went Ireland’s way after Rekeiti Ma’asi-White’s high tackle was found to have stopped a certain score for Dylan O’Grady.
And just as England had quickly given up its advantage, so had Ireland. England’s Lewis Chessum scored next when he blocked a boxkick from Andrew O’Mahony.
The first-half chaos continued, with McLoughlin benefiting from England’s weaker defense before Prendergast’s cool switch ended the opening period 28-19.
Prendergast added an early penalty after the break to extend Ireland’s lead before England support Mikey Summerfield flipped over from the back of a lineout drive and Stephens dived in the corner to level the scores at 31-31.
England took chances that Ireland failed to create and while Prendergast added another three points, the Red Rose still found the line and it was Hendy who crossed Smith’s cross for the sixth.
But Prendergast had the last word, saving his best kick for last, delivering a mighty boot from half-time to seal Ireland’s win with just three minutes to go.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/ireland-sign-off-on-under-20-six-nations-summer-series-campaign-with-late-win-over-england-41816923.html Ireland bid farewell to the U20 Six Nations Summer Series with a late win over England