Ireland kick off Junior World Championship bid with opening bonus point win over England

Ulster and Ballynahinch fullback Iwan Hughes in action for Ireland against England
Ulster and Ballynahinch fullback Iwan Hughes in action for Ireland against England
Share this article


Grand Slam Under20 Champions Ireland won a thrilling encounter against England in their opening pool match at the Junior World Championship in Argentina on Tuesday night.

It was a ding-dong affair for an hour with only a score at the most separating the sides as they exchanged the lead.

But a red card for England's Alfie Barbeary for a dangerous tackle 16 minutes from the end saw Ireland seize their chance - and they did.

England had stormed into a 10-0 lead by the eighth minute after a try from Sleightholme converted by outhalf Manu Vunipola who had opened the scoring with a penalty goal.

The Irish hit back and on 11 minutes a converted try from outhalf Jake Flannery had them three points behind, Vunipola kicking a penalty on 25 minutes for a 13-7 lead.

Ireland went ahead for the first time in the game a minute later, Ulster and Malone centre Stewart Moore going in for a try which was converted by Flannery for a 14-13 lead.

A high tackle from Hinkley on Angus Kernohan earned the English backrow a yellow card, but the young greens were unable to take advantage.

Indeed, still a man down, it was the English who opened the scoring in the second half to regain the lead, Vunipola kicking a penalty two minutes in to nudge his side into a two point lead.

Sleightholme was to go over for his second of the evening, the unconverted try putting the Irish 14-21 behind after 45 minutes.

When outhalf Vunipola was sinbinned for a dangerous tackle on fullback Iwan Hughes, Ireland turned the screw and from a lineout, driving maul and several pick and go drives, Banbridge and Ulster backrow David McCann got over. Replacement Ben Healy added the extras to level the game at 21-all after 50 minutes.

But England hit back within three minutes when winger Seabrook raced in for a try to leave 26-21.

The ding dong affair continued McCann levelling matters with a repeat of his previous try - which also secured a bonus point - on the hour mark and Healy then put the Irish 28-26 ahead with the conversion.

England had prop Alfie Barbeary red carded for a dangerous tackle when he lifted Irish backrow John Hodnett upside down and dumped him on his neck on the 66th minute and 46 seconds later Healy raced in for a try in the corner, confirmed by the TMO and he then dusted himself down to add the conversion and put Ireland nine points ahead.

There was drama at the other end as England pressed for the line but Irish replacement Sean French did enough to help dislodge the ball from Capon's hands as he crossed the line.

Hodnett went over for a try six minutes from time, Healy again converting to leave Ireland in a more comfortable position against an English side who attacked at every opportunity.

Ireland will also face Australia and Italy in Pool B.