IRELAND’S UNDER 20s left it late to secure vital 16-15 Six Nations win over England at Dubarry Park this evening.
A dramatic Rory Scholes try with only three minutes on the clock gave Tom Daly the opportunity to give Ireland their first lead of the game at the most crucial time.
The centre, who also played a big part in the try, nervelessly powered the kick between the posts from a tight angle on the left wing.
In a game strewn with cards, England’s powerful pack coped manfully throughout despite been reduced to 14 men midway through the first half.
Pegged back to 3-3 after Ross Moriarty was handed a straight red for a horror tackle on Luke McGrath, but the seven-man scrum was still able to carve out penalty opportunities for Henry Slade to fire the visitors into a 9-3 half time lead.
Daly narrowed the gap with another penalty, but he would also collect a yellow card to negate Ireland’s sole advantage. After Slade maintained a 100 per cent record to open up a nine-point lead, the victory began to look beyond Ireland when Robbie Henshaw took out his opposite number in the air and followed Daly to the bin.
Scholes took up the kicking tee and kept Ireland in touch before sides were reduced to 13-a-side when Elliot Stoke collected the fourth card of the night for puling down a maul. His absence would prove telling when Daly and Henshaw returned to give Ireland a full compliment of players.
The winning try, when it came, delivered Dubarry Park to a place of rare bliss as the back-line bravely opted to go through the hands from a set-piece inside the 22. Moving from right to left, Daly attacked the gain-line and drew a tackler in front of the posts.
Collecting the ball there, Henshaw showed all his experience gained at the top level this season, taking an angle for the corner, but taking the last tackler and off-loading for Scholes to carry over.
David Panter celebrates the final whistle. ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Daly collected the man of the match award after making a difficult conversion look anything but. And still there was a threat from the reigning champions, Mike Ruddock’s newly-assembled side forced a turnover penalty in their own 22 to hold on for a win which breathes life into the under 20 Championship.