The U18 Tri-Nations series ended on Saturday with Ireland U18 A beating England Counties U18 21-17 at Ashbourne RFC in Dublin.
England took a 9-6 lead into the half time break thanks for three penalties from Warwick Grammar fly half Sam Hollingsworth.
Ballymena Academy fly half Bruce Houston leveled the scores early in the second half though, landing his third penalty of the game. England quickly bounced back though, once again it was Hollingsworth on the scoresheet, but this time it was in the try scoring column as the danced over from close range to send his side back in front.
Ireland piled on the pressure in response, and while England held firm, they eventually cracked after a strong Irish maul was finished off by Blackrock College’s Andrew Murphy, who was skippering the side from number 8.
It leveled the game up at 14-14, only for Hollingsworth to once again nudge England ahead with his fourth penalty of the game. Ireland put huge pressure on England’s defence from then on, but with time ticking away it seemed like England might just escape with a slender victory, however with under a minute left on the clock, the Irish struck.
The home side were awarded a penalty from close range at a scrum, and rather than kick for the draw, they went for the tap and go, with blindside flanker Jack O’Sullivan crashing over for the try, with Houston converting to give the score that extra gloss.
Speaking after the game, England Counties U18 coach Giles Heagerty said:
“I’m hugely proud of the boys and all their efforts not just over the two internationals and the time they’ve been away but over the course of the whole campaign. We’ve always maintained that whilst everybody wants to win, that this whole process is about learning and development and everybody’s learnt a huge amount.”
Full Time: Ireland U18 A 21-17 England Counties U18
Ireland U18 A XV:
15 Sam Dardis (Terenure College)
14 Thomas O’Callaghan (CBC Monkstown)
13 Conor Dunne (Tullamore)
12 David McCarthy (Skibbereen RFC)
11 Conor Phillips (Crescent College Comprehensive)
10 Bruce Houston (Ballymena Academy)
9 Alex Crocker (Henley College)
1 Fergus O’Brien (Whitgift School)
2 Stephen McLoughlin (Blackrock College)
3 Evin Coyle (Gonzaga College)
4 Aaron Browne (Cistercian College Roscrea)
5 JJ O’Dea (Navan)
6 Jack O’Sullivan (PBC)
7 Jonjo Fanning (Bugbrooke RFC)
8 Andrew Murphy (Blackrock College, captain)
Replacements used: Cathal Duff (Clongowes Wood College) Paul Mullan (Armagh RFC) Jack Dunne (St. Michael’s College) Diarmuid Barron (Rockwell College) Jack Daly (Castleisland RFC) Patrick Patterson (Blackrock College) Reid (Buccaneers & Marist College) Michael Silvester (Clongowes Wood College) Not used: Rhys O’Donnell (RBAI & Instonians).
England Counties U18 XV:
15 Louis Brown (St Wilfred’s)
14 Tom Fawsett (Oaklands College)
13 Josh Grimes (Warwick)
12 Robbie Smith (Dartford Grammar)
11 Tom Carleton (Kirkham Grammar)
10 Sam Hollingsworth (Warwick Grammar)
9 Ollie Wem (Bishop Vesey’s)
1 Will Cutbill (Solihull)
2 Will Routledge (Cokethorpe)
3 Mat Woodward (Kirkham Grammar)
4 James Newman (King’s Worcester)
5 Nick Ashcroft (Kirkham Grammar)
6 Sam Miller (Harrow, captain)
7 Sam Jones (Mount St Mary’s)
8 Tom Dodd (Warwick)
Replacements: 16 Luke Chadwick (Prince Henry’s Grammar) 17 Mike Guida (Henley College) 18 Ben Jesson (Bishop Vesey’s) 19 Charlie Morgan (Solihull) 20 Max Clemenston (The Oratory) 21 Lawrence Thresher (Skinners’) 22 Will Hardwick (Bedford Modern) 23 Charlie Fatoma (Trinity) 24 Ollie Davis Smith (Worthing College).
U18 Tri-Nations Series
Ireland U18 A 10-23 France U18 Poles Espoires
England Counties U18 8-14 France U18 Poles Espoires
Ireland U18 A 21-17 England Counties U18