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Disappointing Donnybrook evening for Ireland U20s as England victorious
Nigel Carolan’s men lost for the first time in the 2015 Six Nations.

Ireland 14

England 19

Gary Ringrose skips past Will Owen Ryan Byrne / INPHO Garry Ringrose was impressive with ball in hand for Ireland at outside centre. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

NIGEL CAROLAN’S IRELAND U20s lost for this first time in the 2015 Six Nations as England powered to a 19-14 win in Donnybrook thanks in part to their strong second-half showing.

Ireland will reflect on several missed try-scoring chances in the opening 40 minutes with some regret, while their set-piece was restrictively poor in the latter stages. England’s bulk and dynamism played an obvious role in that, and the visitors were deserved winners.

Man of the match Garry Ringrose led another exciting effort from the Irish backline, playing an important part in Stephen Fitzgerald’s second-half try.

Out-half Ross Byrne missed three kicks from the tee and launched a poor kick for England’s first try, but again his playmaking marked him out as a player of promise. For the English, scrum-half James Mitchell kicked nine points, while Piers O’Conor and Joe Marchant scored tries.

Carolan’s side now look towards Wales in two weekends’ time with the championship still very much in mind, but this formidable England team will back themselves to beat Scotland and France in their remaining fixtures.

It was Mitchell who had the maiden chance off the tee after Josh Murphy came in the side of a ruck, but the England scrum-half was wide with his effort. Similarly, Byrne dragged his opening penalty wide in the sixth minute, failing to reward a superb Rory Moloney jackal penalty.

Byrne kept his composure with his second penalty seven minutes later, slotting from out on the right to send Ireland 3-0 ahead.

Ross Byrne kicks Ryan Byrne / INPHO Byrne kicked three penalties for Ireland. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Carolan’s side almost manufactured a sharp try soon after as out-half Byrne launched a quickly-taken cross-field penalty wide to the left. Left wing Fitzgerald was in an ideal position to catch and score, but the Munster man spilled the ball over the line.

A thrilling outside break by Ringrose then provided Ireland’s next try-scoring opportunity, but having shipped the ball on to Billy Dardis, Ringrose could only watch as the fullback’s pass to right wing Jack Owens went forward with the tryline in view.

UCD playmaker Byrne did manage to add another three points from the tee as the first quarter elapsed but for Ireland to then concede almost instantly was a frustration, Mitchell punishing the failure to roll away at ruck time.

Ringrose produced another sensational moment of skill for the next big Irish chance, following up his own clever clearance kick and hack-on to scoop the ball back between his legs while moving at pace and into the hands of the supporting Sam Arnold.

Ireland looked certain to cross as they battered the English line, but referee Thomas Charabas oddly halted play before the advantage had been played out to send English back row Will Owen to the bin.

Byrne popped over the easy penalty from under the posts for 9-3, but again Ireland conceded a penalty of their own almost immediately. This time, Moloney was caught out for no release in the tackle and Mitchell made it 9-6.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, England suddenly grabbed the momentum, creating a big linebreak for centre Marchant and then luring Irish number eight Lorcan Dow into a silly offside penalty. Yellow card.

England backed their scrum from five metres out, but a good defensive set from Carolan’s side, including impressive reads by Ringrose and Moloney meant they held out for the half-time lead.

Joe Schmidt Alex Connolly / INPHO Joe Schmidt would not have been impressed with the O'Conor try. Alex Connolly / INPHO / INPHO

It didn’t last long into second period, however, as replacement wing O’Conor – a former Ireland U19 international – scorched home from his own half after a poor Byrne garryowen and an equally disappointing chase from Owens.

Mitchell missed the conversion, but England flooded forward again and into the Ireland 22. O’Conor dinked a grubber kick in behind and a defensive mix-up between hooker Zac McCall and Fitzgerald allowed England wing Howard Packman to gather and touch down.

However, Charabas went to his TMO and the video review showed O’Conor shoving McCall in the back off the ball. Let off the hook, Ireland responded in the best fashion possible.

A lovely tip-on pass from the impressive Jeremy Loughman allowed McCall to break, then Ireland were utterly clinical in converting from 35 metres out. A long left-handed pass from Byrne released Ringrose into space and he beat one man with a dummy before drawing in the final defender and sending Fitzgerald over in the right corner.

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Byrne’s conversion effort struck the post to leave it at 14-9, a scoreline England soon levelled after replacement tighthead Conan O’Donnell was deemed to have dropped the scrum.

A high tackle on Ringrose gave Ireland a chance to re-take the lead, but Byrne pushed his penalty to the right of the posts. The ever-growing set-piece dominance of England was beginning to tell though, and a scrum penalty allowed them deep into the Ireland 22.

Stephen Fitzgerald scores their first try Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland came offside, but the visitors quick-tapped and then shifted the ball to the right of the posts, where outside centre Joe Marchant beat the tackle of Ringrose to cross. Mitchell’s missed conversion left Ireland within five points at 19-14.

Ireland had a late spell inside the England 22, declining a shot at goal with five minutes remaining, before substitute lock Cian Romaine spilled the ball within metres of the English line following the subsequent lineout.

Ireland had a final chance to build after England kicked clear, but the lineout failed again and England saw out the closing 90 seconds near the Ireland half.

Ireland scorers:

Tries: Stephen Fitzgerald

Conversions: Ross Byrne [0 from 1]

Penalties: Ross Byrne [3 from 5]

England scorers:

Tries: Piers O’Conor, Joe Marchant

Conversions: James Mitchell [0 from 2]

Penalties: James Mitchell [3 from 4]

IRELAND U20: Billy Dardis; Jack Owens, Garry Ringrose, Sam Arnold (Harrison Brewer ’57), Stephen Fitzgerald; Ross Byrne, Nick McCarthy (capt) (Jack Cullen ’67); Jeremy Loughman (Michael Lagan ’67), Zack McCall, Oisin Heffernan (Conan O’Donnell ’50); David O’Connor (Cian Romaine ’50), Alex Thompson; Josh Murphy, Rory Moloney (Nick Timoney ’62), Lorcan Dow (yellow card ’34 to ’44).

Replacements not used: Adam McBurney, Joey Carbery.

ENGLAND U20: Aaron Morris (Piers O’Conor ‘HT); George Perkins, Joe Marchant, Nick Tompkins, Howard Packman; Oliver Bryant (Will Homer ’60), James Mitchell; Ellis Genge (Seb Adeniran-Olule ’67), Jack Walker (Jack Innard ’67), Ciaran Parker (Paul Hill ’52); Kieran Treadwell, Charlie Ewels (capt.); Joe Batley (Charlie Beckett ’52), Will Owen (yellow card ’27 to 37) (Sam Skinner ’73), James Chisholm.

Replacements not used: Tom Howe.

Referee: Thomas Charabas (France).

‘Any day you get to play against the world champions is a good day’ – Briggs

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