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England’s Most Glorious Of Days: The U20 World Championship Finals Day Review Part 3

It was a glorious day of rugby in a sunny Salford just outside of Manchester on Saturday, but the best game was saved until last with last year’s finalists England taking on New Zealand-conquerors Ireland for the U20 Championship trophy.

England have a wonderful record in this tournament, this being their fourth consecutive final and, ultimately, it proved to be their third title win in those four years as well.

The game began with a ferocious start with both sides totally committed to their cause. Fierce tackle followed fierce tackle and constant physicality in attack was met with brutal resilience in defence. In terms of intensity, it was not a million miles away from Test rugby.

It was England’s Max Malins that somehow ghosted through Ireland’s previously impermeable defensive line before setting up centre Joe Marchant, a man who has more than a passing resemblance to the likes of Jonathan Joseph and Jeremy Guscott in the way he glides across the field. 7-0 to England.

This early blow for Ireland clearly had a psychological effect on them as the restart went straight out.

England took full advantage and started to gain dominance over Ireland at the scrum as well. The boys in green did their best to take some control at the breakdown, but every time they earned a turnover, England somehow found a way to get the ball back once more.

Indeed, this was the story for the majority of the match. Ireland never let their heads drop but every time they tried to build up phases or find someway into the game, a costly mistake ruined their momentum and more often than not allowed England to turn defence into attack.

England v Ireland: World Rugby U20 Championship Final
SALFORD, ENGLAND – JUNE 25: Sam South of England is tackled by Sean O’Connor of Ireland during the World Rugby U20 Championship Final Match between England and Ireland at the AJ Bell Stadium on June 25, 2016 in Salford, England. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

Calum Chick was next to score for the men in white, taking full advantage of England’s dominant pack up front.

Flanker Will Evans was a constant menace with the ball in hand and made it look like he had been eating teflon for breakfast, such was the inability of Ireland U20s to stop him when on the charge. His naming in the team of the tournament is justly deserved.

Huw Taylor was next to get on the scoreboard after talisman Harry Mallinder and Johnny Williams interchanged with some slick passing before sending the Worcester man over for England’s third score. It was at this point 21 – 0 to England.

Ireland continued to try and make inroads with some excellent pick and drives, but their territory and possession was not rewarded on the scoreboard.

The second half carried on from where it left off and with Marchant causing havoc to Ireland’s defence once more, the Harlequins man set up Northampton Saints’ Harry Mallinder for a try of his own. Converting his own score, England were now 28 – 0 up.

Hugo Keenan was the pick of Ireland’s backs with some impressive charges forward, but it was Ulster’s Adam McBurney that finally got them a score from the back of a rolling maul.

At 28 – 7 it seemed Ireland might finally begin their fightback, but England ensured this was not to be with Harry Mallinder getting his second score to extend England’s lead once more.

Jacob Stockdale put in a barnstorming run to dance his way past almost the entire England back line before setting up Shane Daly for a second Irish try.

With England sensing that Ireland could still mount a considerable comeback, the England U20s sensibly took the three points from a penalty, giving them a 24 point cushion at 38 – 14.

But Mallinder’s magnificent performance was not yet finished, with the Saints man putting in a superb crosskick to expertly find Joe Marchant, who once again glided over for another try.

Ireland managed to get a late consolation try from Max Deegan, but the day was truly England’s.

Considering where England were at the end of the Six Nations tournament at the beginning of the year, new head coach Martin Haag could not have done a better job with his young charges.

Congratulations to England, but commiserations to Ireland. Both teams put in fantastic performances, but ultimately England were more clinical on the day.

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.