Ireland U20 35 England U20 27
Ireland U20 were 35-27 winners over England U20 at Irish Independent Park on Friday night in the first U20 Six Nations game played at the Cork venue.
To the delight of the large attendance, Ireland took the lead in the 5th minute through a Harry Byrne penalty kicked from the England 10m line.
Irish errors and inaccurate passing played a crucial role in the opening half and poor handling led to the visitors opening try in the 12th minute. A wild erratic pass caused problems for the Irish backline before the ball broke to winger Cadan Murley who comfortably ran in for his side’s opening score of this season’s Six Nations. With a conversion from Marcus Smith to follow, England led 7-3 after 13 minutes.
Tom Willis then doubled his side’s number of tries scored when touching down under the posts for a five-pointer before scrum-half Smith added the extras for a 14-3 score line.
Ireland’s hooker and Player of the Match Dylan Tierney-Martin game the home side hope when crashing over under the England posts from close range, before Harry Byrne converted the try. Unfortunately, a lack of concentration from the Irish allowed England an immediate reply through fullback Josh Hodge. Kicker Smith scored his third conversion from three attempts to push his side into a 21-10 lead.
Minutes later though Byrne reduced the deficit when slotting over an easy penalty attempt from directly in front of the posts. It was now an 8-point game, Ireland 13 England 21 with 33 minutes on the clock.
Flanker Scott Penny, who has scored two tries in four Guinness Pro14 games for Leinster, got the home side’s second try of the night when touching the posts with the ball. French referee Ludovic Cayre consulted with his TMO before awarding the five points. Another easy Byrne conversion brought Ireland within a point of England, at 20-21, with 2 minutes to the break.
Right on the stroke of halftime, England were awarded a penalty which the accurate Smith successfully kicked for a four-point lead for the visitors, 24-20.
In the second half, when Ireland were awarded a penalty, Byrne opted to kick for touch. With the home side comfortably taking the lineout they drove for the line before prop Thomas Clarkson touched down to put Ireland U20 ahead for the first time since the opening five minutes of the first half. Byrne missed his first kick of the evening when the ball went right and wide of the posts as he attempted to convert.
With England’s No 10 Smith having been replaced minutes into the second half, centre Tom Hardwick kicked a bread-and-butter penalty to put his side back into a two-point lead, 27-25. Ireland’s No. 10 Harry Byrne then scored a penalty in the 54th minute to put his side 28-27 in front.
Byrne had an opportunity to extend the Irish lead in the 67th minute when attempt to kick a penalty from inside his team’s 10m line, but was unable to dissect the posts.
Ireland replacement Cormac Foley sealed the game, however, when crashing over in the dying minutes, before Byrne again added the conversion, leaving Ireland U20s 35-27 winners.