Round 2 of the U20 6 Nations saw a classic encounter between England and Wales, while Ireland struggled and Scotland felt France’s wrath following their poor defeat to England last weekend.
England secured a second bonus point in a row as they beat Wales 37-21 at Parc Erias. The away side went 13-0 down early on, but the men in white were inspired by former Merchiston Castle number 8 Zach Mercer, a former St Joseph’s Festival player of the tournament, as they stormed back into the lead with four tries including one special effort from Mercer.
Scotland, who came so close to victory over Ireland last week, only to miss out thanks to a late Irish try, were put to the sword by France on Friday evening. The French were inspired by 17-year-old fly half Romain N’tamack, son of legendary former senior French international, Émile.
France were good value for a superb 36-8 victory at the Stade Des Alpes, moving them up to third in the table, leaving Scotland languishing at the bottom below Italy on points difference.
Italy came oh so close to jumping even further up the table as they gave Ireland a real fright at the Stadio Enrico Chersoni. Ireland led 27-19 heading into the final few minutes, thanks in part to a Jordan Larmour brace, but a yellow card for second row Fineen Wycherley and a spirited Italian fightback caused a tough last few minutes for the men in green as Italy closed the gap to 27-26.
Ireland were to hang on, a are sitting in second place in the table, but for the second week in a row this young Italian side has impressed in defeat. For Ireland it is two wins from two, but each by just a single point.
England will probably take the most heart from their performance this weekend though, although France’s rapid improvement since their defeat by England was highly impressive.
England’s quality in turning around the early deficit to Wales on Friday night has exceptional though, and some of the tries were breathaking, Max Wight’s try was a real team try and a very special one at that, while Zach Mercer’s was a testament to the breadth of his skillset and his sheer appetite for work.
Next week the sides take a rest before Wales travel to Scotland, Ireland host France, and England welcome Italy to Darlington Mowden Park’s Northern Echo Arena.
U20 6 Nations Week 2 Results:
France 36-8 Scotland
Italy 26-27 Ireland
Wales 21-37 England
England U20 XV
15 Tom Parton (London Irish), 14 Joe Cokanasiga (London Irish), 13 Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie), 12 Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), 11 Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), 10 Jacob Umaga (Wasps), 9 Harry Randall (Gloucester), 1 Ollie Dawe (Bristol), 2 Joe Mullis (Gloucester Rugby), 3 Joseph Morris (Worcester Warriors), 4 Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), 5 Justin Clegg (Worcester Warriors), 6 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), 7 Ben Earl (Saracens, captain), 8 Zach Mercer (Bath).
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon (Sale Sharks), 17 Alex Seville (Gloucester), 18 Ciaran Knight (Gloucester), 19 Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs), 20 Josh Bayliss (Bath), 21 Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints), 22 James Grayson (Northampton Saints), 23 Dominic Morris (Saracens).
Ireland U20 XV
15 Colm Hogan (Dublin University/Munster), 14 Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster), 13 Gavin Mullin (UCD/Leinster), 12 Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster), 11 Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster), 10 Johnny McPhillips (Ballynahinch/Ulster), 9 Johnny Stewart (Queen’s University/Ulster), 1 Joey Conway (UL Bohemians/Munster), 2 Tadgh McElroy (Lansdowne FC/Leinster), 3 Charlie Connolly (Dublin University/Leinster), 4 Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster), 5 Oisin Dowling (Lansdowne FC/Leinster), 6 Cillian Gallagher (Corinthians/Connacht, captain), 7 Paul Boyle (Lansdowne FC/Leinster), 8 Caelan Doris (St Mary’s College/Leinster).
Replacements: 16 Adam Moloney (Shannon/Munster), 17 Rory Mulvihill (UCD/Leinster), 18 Matthew Burke (Corinthians/Connacht), 19 Jack Regan (UCD/Leinster), 20 Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster), 21 Jack Lyons (Young Munster/Munster), 22 Conor Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster), 23 Tommy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster).
Scotland U20 XV
15 Stafford McDowall (Ayr), 14 Robbie Nairn (Harlequins), 13 Craig Pringle (Stirling County), 12 Cameron Hutchison (Currie), 11 Darcy Graham (Hawick), 10 Josh Henderson (Glasgow Hawks), 9 Andrew Simmers (Heriot’s), 1 George Thornton (Bishop Burton College), 2 Fraser Renwick (Hawick), 3 Adam Nicol (Stirling County), 4 Alex Craig (Gloucester), 5 Callum Hunter-Hill (Stirling County, captain), 6 Bruce Flockhart (Glasgow Hawks), 7 Luke Crosbie (Currie), 8 Tom Dodd (Worcester Warriors).
Replacements: 16 Robbie Smith (Ayr), 17 Daniel Winning (Boroughmuir), 18 Fergus Bradbury (Stirling County), 19 Hamish Bain (Currie), 20 Jamie Ure (Boroughmuir), 21 Charlie Shiel (Currie), 22 Connor Eastgate (Wasps), 23 Ross McCann (Melrose).
Wales U20 XV
15 Will Talbot-Davies (Newport Gwent Dragons), 14 Jared Rosser (Newport Gwent Dragons), 13 Ioan Nicholas (Scarlets), 12 Keiran Williams (Ospreys), 11 Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets), 10 Ben Jones (Cardiff Blues), 9 Dane Blacker (Cardiff Blues), 1 Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues), 2 Ellis Shipp (Newport Gwent Dragons), 3 Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Blues), 4 Callum Bradbury (Cardiff Blues), 5 Sean Moore (Pontypridd), 6 Morgan Sieniawski (Cardiff Blues), 7 Will Jones (c) (Ospreys), 8 Morgan Morris (Hartpury).
Replacements: 16 Corrie Tarrant (Cardiff Blues), 17 Steff Thomas (Scarlets), 18 Chris Coleman (Newport Gwent Dragons), 19 Alex Dombrandt (Cardiff Met), 20 Aled Ward (Cardiff Blues), 21 Declan Smith (Scarlets), 22 Phil Jones (Ospreys), 23 Cameron Lewis (Cardiff Blues).