18s Following Five Nations Opener England U18s Lineups Ireland U18s Lineups The Ireland U 18s matched their hosts on try count with the excellent Ronan Kelleher and Daniel Hurley cancelling out efforts from Gabriel Ibitoye and Tom Parton, but a second half penalty from James Grayson proved to be the winning score (15 12).
Playing together for the first time, Ireland grew into what was an jimmy choo black boots sale absorbing contest and had some dominant spells against an English team that had already lined out against France, Scotland and Wales recently. In drizzly conditions at SGS College, the visitors coached by Noel McNamara and Alex Codling fielded a mixture of club and schools players with a number of talented Exiles also donning the green jersey. Ireland fell behind hunter jimmy choo to a third minute try from England centre Ibitoye, who profited from numbers on the left as he surged clear to score under the posts. Out half Grayson converted for 7 0. Irish half backs Jonathon Stewart and Conor Dean both showed well early on, the former breaking up the left wing to launch a kick chase and number 10 Dean making a half break from a scrum. The greasy ball proved problematic for both sides, but Ireland's defence got to grips with the English runners as the likes of Tom O'Toole and captain Caelan Doris landed big tackles. A second scrum penalty gave James Hume a sight of goal on the quarter hour mark, but the RBAI representative missed the monster kick just to the right. His centre partner James Newey broke up a dangerous English attack soon after, forcing a turnover after bringing Jacob Umaga down in the 22. Ireland soaked up further pressure in defence before ending the first half on a real high, with influential hooker Kelleher getting them on the scoreboard. Newey got over a ruck ball to win another long range penalty which Hume was unfortunately short with, however a weaving run and pass from number 8 Doris kept Ireland on the front foot. They held jimmy choo heels price onto that momentum with Newey's superb flick pass releasing Hume for a dart up the left wing, while winger Hurley also caught the eye on an incisive run through midfield. Doris then threatened out wide from a Dean cross field kick before a neatly worked lineout move at the front saw Kelleher get over in the left corner. Hume's cracking conversion brought Ireland level with the last kick of the half. Although a fine touchfinder from Dean saw Ireland begin the second period in promising fashion, a couple of penalties invited England forward and Grayson punished a maul infringement for 10 7, five minutes in. Grayson, the son of former England senior out half Paul Grayson, pushed a place kick from halfway to the right and navy jimmy choo wide shortly afterwards. It was then Ireland's chance to lift the tempo, a tremendous carry from Kelleher off a wayward English lineout seeing the St. Michael's College student make a full 25 metres, deep into the hosts' half. England were fortunate to avoid leaking a second try when lock Charlie Ryan was held up from a powerful Irish maul, however McNamara's charges maintained the momentum and got their just reward. After the ball squirted out of a five metre scrum, Stewart's outstanding pass out the back door set up Hurley for a smart finish by the corner flag. The difficult conversion from the left touchline fell wide at 12 10. Ireland's lead was shortlived, though, as a quick turnover launched England forward and a favourable bounce from an Ibitoye kick saw full back Parton score an unconverted effort in the right corner. Entering the final quarter of an hour, there were turnovers aplenty at both ends of the pitch but territory was largely with the more experienced England team. Hurley almost hit back with his second try of the afternoon, Hume kicking to touch to set up a close in lineout, but the Crescent College winger was tackled just short following a typically pacey run. England were pinged for hands in the ruck near their whitewash and number 8 Ben Earl was promptly sin binned. His team mates knuckled down to thwart Ireland's advances late on, with a kick downfield lifting the pressure at the end of a very tight encounter.
Despite this opening defeat, Ireland will draw confidence from what was a strong first outing as a collective. The set piece provided a solid platform, the defence offered up very little space and the green shirts gradually found their attacking groove, with some crisp handling and well timed runs. The Ireland U 18s' second Five Nations Festival clash will see them take on Scotland in Caerphilly next Tuesday (kick off 2pm), before wrapping up the tournament against Italy at the same Welsh venue the CCB Centre of Sporting Excellence on Saturday week (11am).
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