England U20s | Tries: Hodge, Maunder, Willis Cons: Hodge (3) Pens: Hodge (3)
Ireland U20s | Tries: Wren, Deeny Cons: Healy (2) Pens: Healy (3)
England secure a fifth-place final against Wales on Saturday at the World Rugby U20 Championship after sealing a gripping 30-23 win over Ireland in Rosario, Argentina.
England led 13-6 at the break, with Josh Hodge scoring a try and converting his own score as well as adding two further penalties, with Ireland responding through Ben Healy’s boot.
A second-half try from Sam Maunder and five points from Hodge increased England's lead, however 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.
England take control
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.
Ireland comeback and England’s late winner
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.”
ENGLAND U20S XV
15. Tom de Glanville (Bath Rugby)
14. Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints)
13. Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints) - captain
12. Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks)
11. Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons)
10. Manu Vunipola (Saracens)
9. Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs)
1. Kai Owen (Worcester Warriors)
2. Will Capon (Bristol Bears)
3. Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)
4. Joel Kpoku (Saracens)
5. Alex Coles (Northampton Saints)
6. Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs)
7. Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester Rugby)
8. Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
16. Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks)
17. Olly Adkins (Gloucester Rugby)
18. James Kenny (Exeter Chiefs)
19. Tom Willis (Wasps Rugby)
20. Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)
21. Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie)
22. Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks)
23. Tom Seabrook (Gloucester Rugby)
24. Luke James (Sale Sharks)
25. Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish)
England U20 fixtures and results
4 June: England U20s 26-42 Ireland U20s
8 June: England U20s 24-23 Italy U20s
12 June: England U20s 56-33 Australia U20s
17 June: England U20s 23-30 Ireland U20s