Match Report


England Ireland 20s image
England and Ireland shared a remarkable 32-all draw at The Rec leaving both sides with a chance of U20 Six Nations glory in round five.

England captain Finn Carnduff put Mark Mapletoft's side ahead early on but Ireland held a slender half-time lead thanks to tries from Finn Treacy and Ben O'Connor.

Hugo McLaughlin extended the visitors' lead at the beginning of the second period before Oliver Spencer touched down to bring England back to within two points.

Henry Walker pushed Ireland clear again but tries from Kane James and Ben Waghorn looked to have swung the tie England’s way only for Luke Murphy to sensationally cross at the death, leaving it all square and as you were heading into the final round.

The hosts came racing out of the blocks and forced the game’s first opening when Ireland full-back O'Connor spilled a kick just outside his 22.

A penalty swiftly followed and from after a close-range lineout was halted, flanker Carnduff burrowed over for his third try of the Championship.

Sean Kerr converted and added another three points to England’s tally either side of an impressive 43-metre penalty from Ireland’s Jack Murphy.

The fly-half then produced a pinpoint kick pass to put Treacy in space and he pinned his ears back to race round the outside and touch down under the sticks to level the scores at 10-all.

Ireland’s backs continued to threaten and Treacy’s opposite wing McLaughlin came close to dotting down with a chip and chase but the ball bounced into touch six metres short of the line.

Richie Murphy’s side then hit the front for the first time after making the most of penalty advantage. Stand-off Jack Murphy called for the ball and fizzed a miss pass out to Treacy on the wing.

The try scorer of Ireland’s first try passed back inside to O'Connor and he slid over to push Ireland five points clear.

England enjoyed more of the ball in the closing 10 minutes of the half and closed the deficit to just two points with another long-range strike from centre and Player of the Match Kerr.

It was Ireland who came out the blocks quicker in the second half and they nearly scored on free play but O'Connor’s pass to an unmarked McLaughlin was slightly behind him and the wing knocked forward.

But Ireland snuck over for their third try shortly after, as another long ball from Murphy found McLaughlin on the right touchline and he slid over to extend Ireland’s lead to seven.

The visitors had the wind in their sails and were back inside the England 22 shortly after the restart but a superb clearance kick from scrum-half Archie McParland released the pressure valve.

England then turned the tide and cut the deficit back to two points as two replacements combined for a brilliant score.

On a night of brilliant kicking from both sides, George Makepeace-Cubitt put his hand up for nudge of the match, dropping the ball into the hands of Spencer for his first Under-20s score.

Ireland quickly rallied and after a succession of penalties, replacement Walker reasserted a seven-point lead from the back of a lineout drive.

The ebb and flow of the game made for a pulsating finale and it was England who produced the next blow courtesy of replacement Kane James.

Ireland were retreating at a rate and coughed a couple of penalties out of desperation on their own line.

England capitalised and after Scott Kirk had done the hard yards from a tap and go, fellow newcomer James barged over and Kerr made no mistake from the tee, levelling the scores at 25-all.

Roared on by a raucous Rec, England pushed for the bonus-point try and it arrived three minutes from time when Makepeace-Cubitt sent Waghorn over in the corner. Kerr then held his nerve to ensure England could not lose the game in what remained of the contest.

That looked to be that but there was more drama at the death as Ireland regained possession and produced a faultless last attacking drive to level the scores through a conversion from Sean Naughton after No.8 Murphy scored in the third minute of overtime.

All that leaves England one point above Ireland in the table heading into the final round and with a superior points difference of 17. They travel to France, while Ireland host Scotland.