Ireland boss Richie Murphy praised fly-half Sam Prendergast after his late penalty earned a 37-36 win over England in the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series.
rendergast took the crucial penalty from the middle after previously missing a much easier try and Murphy was delighted to take charge in such a pressured situation.
“We also had a long-distance penalty on the pitch with George Coomber, but Sam decided he wanted it,” explained Murphy, who led his side to the Six Nations U20 Grand Slam earlier this year.
“He was obviously in the groove because he was in the game and I’m sure whoever he missed before probably upset him.
“It was great to give him that opportunity and to be fair to him it never looked like it was going anywhere else and what people won’t realize is that it got a bit windy too.
“It’s been great for him, he’s an under-19 half, he’s come in, he’s been working really hard and stepping up and filling a hole as our two first-choice halves are both injured at the moment.”
Despite a thrilling win over England, Ireland finished bottom in Pool A in the Summer Series with that lone win in their three group games.
And there appeared to be three straight defeats as England went 14-0 after just five minutes through attempts from George Hendy and Alex Harmes, but Ireland immediately struck back with three of their own with a penalty try after Fionn Gibbons and James McCormick’s efforts to lead by 21-14.
Lorcan McLoughlin made four tries in the first half but they failed to cross the whitewash after the break but three penalties from Leinster’s Prendergast were enough for the win.
“It was a really strange game, wasn’t it?” joked Murphy.
“We were down 14-0 early on and then put together some really good stuff to get up at half-time was very encouraging.
“We got a little lost in the second half, a couple of set piece penalties that put us under pressure, we then probably overplayed on our end which gave them access to our 22 and with a field that big it’s tough to stop them from going through our line.
“Obviously Sam then took a great penalty from the halfway line to bring us home, which we probably needed.”
Murphy’s attention will now turn to the all-pool play-offs, where Ireland will face Scotland as losers in Pool B against Georgia.
Ireland’s final in Italy begins on the final day of the Summer Series, with three more games to follow to decide places one through eight.
And Murphy believes his side will approach this final game with a better attitude after beating England in Verona.
“It’s a huge thing for us,” said Murphy, speaking about the value of England’s win.
“In every tournament like this, if you lose your first two games, you are very against it, at least now we look forward to the last game.
“Yes, we finished last in the group, but that can easily happen in a short tournament like this.
“We just want to try and go home with two wins out of four, which with the group we have, with 12 U19 players in the group, will be a huge advantage for these guys for next year.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/u20s-six-nations/sam-decided-that-he-wanted-it-ireland-u-20-boss-richie-murphy-hails-match-winner-prendergast-41817766.html ‘Sam decided he wanted it’ – Ireland U-20 coach Richie Murphy praises match-winner Prendergast