It was a night to remember for Bath Rugby’s Academy contingent playing for England Under-20s as they played a huge role in Alan Dickens’ side securing a third win of the U20 Six Nations against Ireland.
Number 8 Nahum Merigan, on his first start of 2021, scored after 17 minutes and Ewan Richards grabbed a brace to help England cement their place at the top of tournament table with a 24-15 victory at Cardiff Arms Park.
The two teams came into the game as the only unbeaten sides left in the competition. Ireland enjoyed the majority of possession early on, but it was England who took the lead.
Merigan collected at the back of a maul and marshalled a well-worked group of white shirts to the line with Worcester Warriors’ Fin Smith kicking the extras.
The converted try proved to be the only points of a cagey first half though it didn’t take too long in the second period for Ireland to announce themselves with a Nathan Doak penalty.
Consistent England pressure with ball in hand eventually saw lock-turned-back-rower Richards cross on the right and wing before he added a second moments later.
The blindside flanker benefitted from great defensive pressing, hacking a loose ball on the deck and racing clear from the 22 to gather and score.
Merigan was sin binned for a high tackle just shy of the hour ahead of Ireland’s Alex Soroka scoring their first try from a rolling maul, but despite being a man light, England’s stunning maul produced another scoring opportunity for Harlequins hooker Sam Riley.
Ireland replacement Eoin de Buitlear wriggled over in the closing stages but England had already done enough to move top of the table after round three.
The victory ends Ireland’s 10-game winning run in the Under 20 Six Nations and England, a side which also featured Tom Carr-Smith and Orlando Bailey, now move on to face Wales on Wednesday 7 July at 20:00 BST.