Ireland U20s grind their way to victory over England in Six Nations opener 2 years ago

Ireland U20s grind their way to victory over England in Six Nations opener

Ireland's U20s simply refused to be beaten in Cork on Friday night.

Trailing to England by 11 points on two occasions, Ireland's youngsters produced a spirited comeback to get their Six Nations campaign off to a dream start.


Following what proved to be a disappointing evening for Ireland's Women, the U20s brought Musgrave Park to its feet with a 35-27 victory over England.

England, who were 20-point favourites according to some bookmakers, were stunned by the hosts' refusal to give in throughout an incredible opening day win for Noel McNamara's young men.

McNamara discussed after the full-time whistle how impressed he was by the "the character and the cohesion" from his side, who had to show serious fight to get the result over the line.

Harry Byrne opened the scoring with a penalty after five minutes but the visitors answered back with consecutive tries from Cadan Murley and Tom Willis, both of which were converted by Marcus Smith.

Man of the match Dylan Tierney-Martin barrelled his way over the English line to stop the rot but Josh Hodges responded immediately to put 11 points between the sides.

Leinster's Scott Penny touched down after a Byrne penalty but England closed out a thrilling opening half with three points of their own, setting up a dramatic second 40 minutes.


The hosts struck first after the break as Tierney-Martin scored his second of the match but the conversion didn't find the target before the sides exchanged successful penalties.

On the hour-mark, Byrne prevented what appeared to be a certain England try when he composedly read the bounce of a dinked ball over the top in a move that ultimately proved crucial.

Some similarly impressive defending came from the pack moments later when Michael Milne managed to hold it up from a driving England maul.

But Milne, a replacement for Josh Wycherley a few minutes earlier, followed up his valiant stop with a yellow card for successive infractions and Wycherley was forced back into action.


The performance was perhaps encapsulated by the behaviour of scrum-half Craig Casey after being flattened with five minutes remaining. He hopped straight back to his feet and asked the referee: "What do you mean what am I doing?"

As a correct precaution, Casey was taken off to be assessed and his replacement, Cormac Foley, secured the win with a breathing-room try that was subsequently converted by the very man who opened the scoring 74 minutes earlier as Byrne stepped up to deny England a losing bonus point.

Job done.