England U18 put in a quite brilliant second half performance to lift their third FIRA/AER European Championship in a row, beating Ireland U18 30-14.
Two tries fro Taylor Prell were the major talking points, though a brilliant score from Irish outside centre Jack Power will have left Irish fans believing that there is life after â€˜BODâ€™.
England started well, earning a 3-0 lead through the assured boot of Rugby School fly half Harry Mallinder, however Powerâ€™s moment of magic meant that the English lead was short-lived.
Power swerved on an outside break before cutting back inside twice and accelerating away to score, it was reminiscent of a young Oâ€™Driscoll, and when the clubs next to his name read Blackrock College and Leinster it was hard to allow the mind to imagine.
Matthew Gilsenanâ€™s conversion gave Ireland a 7-3 lead, however Taylor Prell was about to have his own moment of â€˜BODâ€™ magic for England, swerving outside the onrushing Irish defence before surging away to score in the left hand corner. Mallinder converted, putting England back in front in this to and fro game of rugby.
To and fro it certainly was as only a few minutes later Ireland were on the attack again, this time using their forwards to punch away at the England line. They battered away and were quickly rewarded with a close range try from Leinster flanker Will Connors.
Another Gilsenan conversion put the Irish 14-10 ahead, however it was to be England who went in at half time with smiles on their faces as an interception from Lucas Slowik, one of only two players in the England side having a second go at these Championships, gave the Champions the lead.
Mallinder converted leaving England 17-14 ahead at the break. England will have been the happier with the scoreboard, however it was probably Ireland who were feeling the more positive about their performance during half time, indeed without the Slowik interception Ireland would have been putting the England defence under serious pressure once again.
It is a testament to the England coaching staff and the players in particular that England were able to pull away so well in the second half. John Fletcher, Englandâ€™s Head Coach, has often spoken of his desire to leave the players to make their own decisions, and if that was the case again here then his players must take huge credit.
They did not concede a single point in the second half as they stepped up their intensity at the breakdown and worked hard on their line speed.
An early second try for Taylor Prell, set up magnificently by the superb Mallinder, stretched Englandâ€™s lead out to 22-14 before a Mallinder penalty stretched it even further.
Even the loss of captain Sam Underhill to injury could not dampen the English resilience as they kept hammering away at the Irish, eventually finding another try through Underhillâ€™s replacement, Josh Bainbridge, to end the game on the ultimate high.
Mallinder converted with consummate ease to take the final score to 30-14, giving England U18 a third FIRA/AER European Championship title in a row, a remarkable feat by the players and an even greater one for John Fletcher, his coaching staff, and their methods.
Elsewhere Wales clinched third place with a brilliant last minute try to give them a 31-30 victory over France in a real tit for tat game, while Scotland held off a late Italian fightback to claim 5th place with a 24-15 victory.
Full Time: England U18 30-14 Ireland U18
England U18 XV:
15 Taylor Prell (Giggleswick, Leeds Carnegie)Â
14 George Perkins (Oaklands, Saracens)Â
13 Lucas SlowikÂ (Filton College, Bristol)Â
12 Charlie Thacker (Leicester Grammar, Leicester Tigers)Â
11 Kai Little (Hartpury College, Exeter Chiefs)Â
10 Harry Mallinder (Rugby, Northampton Saints)Â
9 Jack Maunder (Blundellâ€™s, Exeter Chiefs)
1 Lewis Boyce (Prince Henryâ€™s Grammar, Leeds Carnegie)Â
2 Ollie Adams (St Pauls Catholic College, London Irish)Â
3 Josh Ibuanokpe (Dulwich College, Harlequins)Â Â
4 Stanley South (Whitgift, Harlequins)Â
5 George Nott (Kings School Chester, Sale Sharks)Â
6 Joe Batley (Hartpury College, Gloucester)Â
7 Sam UnderhillÂ (Sir Thomas Richâ€™s, Gloucester, captain)Â
8 Will Safe (Hartpury College, Gloucester)
Replacements: 16 James Fish (Trent College, Northampton Saints)Â â€¨17 Owen Hills (Queen Elizabeth Wyggeston College, Leicester Tigers)Â â€¨18 Jack Stanley (Truro College, Exeter Chiefs)Â â€¨19 Callum Chick (Gosforth Academy, Newcastle Falcons)Â Â â€¨20 Huw Taylor (Old Swinford Hospital, Worcester Warriors)Â â€¨21 Josh Bainbridge (Prince Henryâ€™s Grammar, Leeds Carnegie)Â â€¨22 Alex Mitchell (Lymm High School, Sale Sharks)Â â€¨23 Theo Brophy Clews (Abingdon School, London Irish)Â â€¨24 Joe Marchant (Peter Symonds, Harlequins)Â â€¨25 Rotimi Segun (Stowe School, Northampton Saints)Â â€¨26 Cameron Cowell (St Pauls Catholic College, London Irish).
Ireland U18 XV:
15. Jacob Stockdale (Wallace High School/Ulster)
14. Jordan Larmour (St. Andrew’s College/Leinster)
13. Jack Power (Blackrock College/Leinster)
12. Colm Mulcahy (Clongowes Wood College/Leinster)
11. Calvin Nash (Crescent College Comprehensive/Munster)
10. Matthew Gilsenan (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
9. Rowan Osborne (Clongowes Wood College/Leinster)
1. Andrew Porter (St. Andrew’s College/Leinster)
2. John Molony (Clongowes Wood College/Leinster)
3. Conan O’Donnell (Summerhill College/Connacht)
4. James Ryan (St. Michael’s College/Leinster, captain)
5. Sean O’Connor (Rockwell College/Munster)
6. Will Connors (Clongowes Wood College/Leinster)
7. Johnny Guy (St. Andrew’s College/Leinster)
8. Max Deegan (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)
Replacements: 16. Conor McIlmurray (Campbell College/Ulster)â€¨17. Hugo Kean (Blackrock College/Leinster)â€¨18. Conor Kenny (Garbally College/Connacht)â€¨19. Peter Claffey (Garbally College/Connacht)â€¨20. Greg Jones (St. Andrew’s College/Leinster)â€¨21. David Duggan (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)â€¨22. Jimmy O’Brien (Newbridge College/Leinster)â€¨23. Paul Kiernan (Presentation Brothers Cork/Munster)â€¨24. Oisin O’Meara (St. Michael’s College/Leinster)â€¨25. Alan McMahon (Rockwell College/Munster).Â