England defeat Ireland at World Rugby U20 Championship

England defeat Ireland at World Rugby U20 Championship

England will face Wales in the fifth-place final on Saturday at the World Rugby U20 Championship after sealing a 30-23 victory over Ireland in Rosario, Argentina.

They will take on Wales, who earlier defeated New Zealand in the other semi-final, at the Racecourse Stadium, Rosario.

Steve Bates' side led 13-6 at the break, with Josh Hodge scoring a try and converting his own score as well as adding two further penalties as Ireland responded through Ben Healy’s boot.

A second-half try from Sam Maunder, which Hodge converted as well as a further penalty increased England's lead but late scores from Jonathan Wren and Brian Deeny which Healy converted levelled the game.

But in stoppage time Tom Willis bundled over to seal a dramatic late victory with Hodge adding a third conversion.

Having lost their opening fixture of the tournament to Ireland and despite victories over Italy and Australia in their pool, England were unable to advance to the top four of the Championship - leaving them to battle for fifth.

England lost Ted Hill early on for a dangerous tackle on halfway and in that period Healy kicked a penalty for Ireland to give them a 10th-minute lead.

Hodge levelled the game with a penalty of his own, as Hill returned to the pitch and restored England to 15.

Healy kicked a further penalty with England offside midway through the half and before the break prop England prop Kai Owen was sin binned for a dangerous tackle.

It was England who scored next though, Hodge nailing a long-distance penalty to again level the match.

Five minutes before the break Hodge had the first try of the game jinking his way over after England’s three-quarters had recycled the ball to the left wing with the Newcastle Falcon converting his own score.

Healy reduced the deficit to four points shortly after the restart before Hodge restored the advantage with a third penalty. 

Maunder sniped over after a dominant England scrum on the 5m, and Hodge's conversion gave England a 21-9 lead.

Ireland lost hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin to the sin bin for a high tackle just before the hour but they were next to cross with Wren going over in the corner after a sustained period of pressure to set up tense finish.

Moments later Ireland were level, Deeny charging down Maunder's kick before diving over under the posts which Healy converted for 23-23.

England lost Rus Tuima in the closing stages, but they ended the game the stronger and after a period of sustained pressure Willis bundled over to win the game.

Steve Bates said: “In really difficult conditions for both sides we weathered an early storm and despite conceding a lot of ground in the first 30 minutes fought back and scored a late try at the end of the first half and I thought we really stuck in there in that opening period

“To come back and win the game right at the end is a big victory against opponents who have beaten us twice this season and that’s hugely rewarding. I thought we defended really strongly, other than some discipline issues they never looked like scoring from open play and until the charge down we were in control of the game and that was largely down to our defensive effort. We need to work on a few areas of our game but we look forward to playing Wales.

“That final fixture against Wales, who have beaten us already this season, will focus the minds of the players again. After the disappointment of the first loss to Ireland in this competition we’ve showed true resilience and it is a testament to how much these boys want to play for each other.”

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