Mercer leads England to World Rugby U20 Championship semi-final

9 June 2017

Bath Rugby trio Zach Mercer, Josh Bayliss and Darren Atkins helped England U20 to a place in the semi-final of the World Rugby U20 Championship following a dramatic 20-19 victory against Australia U20.

With two minutes left on the clock Max Malins slotted the match-winning conversion, but it was an intervention by Mercer, which sealed the result. 

With the game deep into stoppage time and Australia well within drop-goal territory, the England U20 captain made the crucial turnover to send his side into Tuesday's semi-final against South Africa (live on ITV4, kick-off 15:00pm BST)

Australia went into half-time with a six-point lead following a converted Sione Tuipulotu try and eight points from the boot of Harrison Goddard.

Gabriel Ibitoye scored his fifth try of the tournament which Malins converted while Theo Brophy Clews also sent over a penalty for England.

Exeter’s Marcus Street bundled over and Malins' conversion put England in front, however, Australia's Harry Nucifora kicked a penalty for 19-17.
“You’ve just got to give the guys huge credit, they know how to win games,” said England forwards coach Louis Deacon.

“We didn’t get some of the decisions we probably deserved, but they stuck with it and experience got us through. It reminded me a lot of those last few minutes against Ireland in the Six Nations, it was a similar sort of feeling, the boys were outstanding.”

Captain Zach Mercer said: “Full credit to Australia who pushed us all the way and I thought we were outstanding today. We showed once again how hard we work for each other and I’d like to dedicate the victory to the guys that have had to leave the tournament because of injury.

“We will celebrate the victory and then focus on South Africa who are a strong side so I’m sure that will be another tough game.”

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