Match Report

Ireland seal Grand Slam with dramatic win over England

Ireland Under-20 champions 2000
Ireland clinched the Under-20s Grand Slam in a chaotic and feisty affair at Musgrave Park with a 36-24 victory over England.

Ireland clinched the Under-20s Grand Slam in a chaotic and feisty affair at Musgrave Park with a 36-24 victory over England.

England arrived in Cork with faint hopes of snatching the title away from their hosts but were severely hampered after Monty Bradbury was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle in the second half.

Ireland initially made the most of their numerical advantage, stretching their lead to 21 points entering the final 10 minutes of the game but England found a second wind to cut the gap to just a score with three minutes to play.

Ireland then rallied, dotting down for their sixth score to seal victory and back-to-back Grand Slams in front of a jubilant home crowd.

Richie Murphy’s side hit the front early on after a deep kick-off which put England under immediate pressure.

Caught a little cold, England failed to clear their lines with conviction and were punished inside the first four minutes when Hugh Gavin touched down to score.

Ireland continued to dominate the early stages and would have had a second but for a super recovering tackle from centre Joseph Woodward, who denied Fintan Gunne a near-certain score.

England managed to cling on and soon hit back with a brilliantly worked try of their own.

A delayed pass from fly-half Bradbury worked an opening for wing Tobias Elliott who galloped home under the posts. Sam Harris added the extras and despite having been on the back foot for much of the early knockings, England led 7-5.

Ireland came back again though and reclaimed the lead just shy of the half hour mark through the towering Brian Gleeson, who smashed his way over from a lineout drive.

They then worked their way to the same corner on the stroke of half time but an outstretched hand from England captain Lewis Chessum forced a turnover, with Ireland having to settle for a 12-7 lead at the interval.

Chessum was then at the heart of the action just after the restart, having fought he had levelled the scores after chasing down Gunne’s box-kick.

But after a thorough review of the grounding, Chessum was adjudged to have knocked the ball forward and so Ireland’s five-point lead remained intact.

Elliott was then shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock on and prop George Hadden was over for Ireland’s third just two minutes later.

With England flailing, Bradbury was then dismissed for a dangerous hit on Ireland Henry McErlean which forced the full-back off the pitch for a HIA.

Ireland took full advantage with England temporarily reduced to 13, as Gleeson powered his way over before Gavin latched onto a cross-kick from Sam Prendergast to stretch the home side’s lead to 31-10.

It seemed unthinkable that England would find a way back into the game but they did and there were more than few nerves among Irish players and supporters the Slam in the balance.

Replacement Joe Jenkins burst his way through before Elliott touched down in the corner for his fifth of the Under-2os Championship. Sam Worsley then added his second conversion of the game to cut the gap to just seven points.

That forced Ireland to find an extra gear and they then put the tie to bed with a sixth try courtesy of scrum-half Gunne.

The celebrations ensued as Ireland revelled in a second successive Slam while England were forced to settle for fourth following Italy’s bonus-point win earlier on Super Sunday against Scotland,