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England and Ireland play out brutal draw at World Rugby U20s

England and Ireland play out brutal draw at World Rugby U20s

England and Ireland clashed in a fiercely physical encounter during the pool stages of the World Rugby U20 Championship in Paarl, resulting in a rare draw, only the second in the tournament’s history.

The match was characterized by bone-crunching collisions and intense battles between the two heavyweight packs. The physicality led to a total of three cards being shown, including a yellow card to players from both sides and a late red card to Ireland’s center, Hugh Cooney.

The outcome of the game remained uncertain throughout, with missed kicks at goal by Ireland’s fly-half, Sam Prendergast, proving crucial to the final result. Prendergast managed to convert only two of Ireland’s five tries, while his counterpart, Connor Slevin, was flawless in his kicking, successfully slotting all five of his attempts. A late surge from England, including two tries from substitute Jacob Cuslick, created a thrilling comeback. However, it was Ireland who managed to hold on in the end.

Slevin drew first blood with a penalty in the fourth minute, but Ireland dominated much of the first half. They crossed the try line twice through Prendergast and prop George Hadden. However, England found a glimmer of hope through a remarkable individual effort from loose-head Asher Opoku-Fordjour, who powered through two defenders with his sheer strength to score a sensational try. Slevin’s conversion leveled the scores at 10-10.

Both teams had defensive heroics and missed opportunities before Ireland capitalized on possession just before halftime. Number eight James McNabney touched down from a tap penalty, extending Ireland’s lead. Despite being outscored three tries to one, England remained within reach, trailing by only five points at halftime due to Prendergast’s third missed conversion.

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The second half witnessed a shift in momentum as England’s dominant scrum began to assert control. Ireland struggled to exit their own 22, and their difficulties were compounded when flanker Diarmuid Mangan was sin-binned for impeding play at the ruck. England capitalized on the advantage, with Rekeiti Ma’asi-White and Chandler Cunningham-South making crucial contributions. They were awarded a penalty try, and Jacob Cusick crossed the line in the corner to bring England back into contention.

Not to be outdone, Ireland responded with tries from Ruadhan Quinn and Henry McErlean, the latter scored while Greg Fisilau was in the sin bin. John Devine and Hugh Cooney combined for a try, with Prendergast successfully converting, giving Ireland a double-figure lead with 15 minutes remaining.

England’s captain, Ollie Chessum, demonstrated composure under pressure by opting for a penalty kick, which Slevin expertly converted. Cusick’s try in the same corner, accompanied by Slevin’s magnificent touchline conversion, leveled the scores at 34-34. Despite Ireland being down to 14 players, both teams were unable to break the deadlock in the final moments, making mistakes in their pursuit of a winning score.

Argentina made the most of an early red card to Italy’s Destiny Aminu to win 43-15 in Paarl, while at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch, two-time defending champions France began with an emphatic 75-12 victory against Japan.

  • June 25, 2023