Ireland A made four changes to the team that beat the USA on Wednesday. Gary Brown, surprisingly, replaced Ulsterman Mark McCrea, Cronin stepped into the middle of the front row, Donnacha Ryan replaced an out of sorts Ryan Caldwell and David Pollock got the nod ahead of the experienced Johnny O’Connor.
Ireland started well and Wilson and Best looked to have the run of the park making good ground with ball in hand and terrorising English out half Lamb at every opportunity. The Ireland pack secured plenty of ball early on and Keith Earls sliced through the English defence after ten minutes to give Ireland the first score. Unfortunately Sexton, who had a poor game throughout, missed the relatively easy conversion. Ireland 5 England 0
England come back with a score by their big Bath winger Banahan who gave Brown a torrid time the whole game. Lamb converted. O’Leary and Sexton struggle for Ireland and England are starting to get on top. A poor kick by O’Leary is returned by the impressive Abendanon and England go further in front with a try by flanker Armitage. Ireland 5 England 12.
Good work from the Irish back three set up an overlap on the right wing and Brown sent Earls over for his second of the match. Sexton converts and the scores are equal at 12 all. Ireland, however, are visibly tiring after their short turnaround from the USA game and England pile on the pressure for the last 5 minutes of the first half. Allen and Abendanon combine to set Monye free and he breezes past Hurley on the outside. Lamb converts and the half time score is Ireland 12 England 17.
England start the second half where they left off and they are soon camped in the Irish 22. Fortunately Lamb’s kicking is as bad as Sexton’s and England fail to take advantage of their possession. However with the Irish defence stretched Banahan steps past Brown for his second and Ireland look out of it at Ireland 12 England 22.
Court comes on for Ross and O’Connor for Pollock, Ireland up the intensity and play with a bit more pace. Unfortunately Sexton is unable to capitalise with the boot and he’s subbed for Keatley. Keatley looks to have a bit more spark but careless mistakes mean that they don’t capitalise on promising moves. Replacement hooker Forarty has a bit of a disaster, trying to keep a touch kick in, and gifts the ball to England’s Allen who strolls over for another score. Ireland are in deep trouble at Ireland 12 England 27.
Ireland swap out the rest of their bench and Caldwell and Murphy impress in what limited time they have however Englands fullback, and Man of the Match, Abendanon, gets another try at the end to give a final score of Ireland 12 England 34.
Ireland can feel hard done by as they were only given a couple of days to recover for this match compared to England having the full week. The Irish forwards went about their work well but they were let down by their half-backs, with Sexton particularly disappointing. It’s a pity Ian Humphreys missed the tour due to hamstring problems.
Ireland now play an abrasive but basic Argentina A in Chicago on Saturday. We’ll be there to cover the match live.