It was heartbreak for Ireland in the opening game of the IRB 2011 Junior World Cup with a last minute try from England denying Ireland a losing bonus point.

Ireland had taken the lead minutes from the end with a huge penalty from James McKinney but careless play from Shane Buckley, penalised and yellow carded for foul play, handed the lead back to the English.

England rubbed salt in the wound with a last gasp try and conversion pushing them eight points clear leaving Ireland with nothing to show from their opening fixture.

Ireland’s youngsters looked nervous in a poor opening quarter with England racing into a 10 – 0 lead and at the time it was looking like it could be a bit of a rout! However Ireland eventually settled into the game and Jackson had a couple of penalty chances before England increased their lead to 13 – 0 with their second penalty.

Jackson eventually got Ireland on the scoreboard at his third attempt taking the score to 13 – 3 but England continued to look well in command narrowly failing to get on the end of a chip ahead.

However quick thinking from Andrew Conway saw the Leinster youngster take a quick drop out and with a ricochet off the English cover bouncing straight into his hand the speedster raced clear to score. Jackson added the extras giving Ireland a glimmer of a chance with the score reading 13 – 10.

Ireland needed to keep things tight till the break but a defensive overthrow at the lineout by Annett gifted England possession which they converted into a try on their right. The conversion was missed leaving the score at 18 – 10.

Ireland refused to give up and Jackson slotted his second penalty to take the score to 18 – 13 at the break with Ireland grateful to be in touch.

It was a different story at the start of the second half with Ireland looking the more threatening team with Jackson, Marshall and Macken combining well in midfield and they were first on the scoreboard after the break with Jackson slotting over his third penalty to make it a two point game at 18 – 16.

The game moved up a notch but Ireland more than held their own with some good work from Annett and Gilroy. However Jackson was subbed out for Hanrahan and, before he had a chance to settle, England exploited a bit of confusion in the midfield to send prop Thomas clear on the wing with the bruiser barging over for a score in the corner. The conversion was missed but England were seven clear at 23 – 16.

James McKinney came on for Macken and the Ulster youngster was called into kicking duty soon after, pushing a penalty chance wide. However, after good work from Hanrahan, McKinney got another chance which he slotted over to take the score to 23 – 19 and Ireland looked to have England rattled.

The English youngsters began to make a few mistakes and handed McKinney another chance from the halfway line after a mistake at the lineout. The youngster nailed a massive penalty and Ireland had a sniff of victory with the score now at 23 – 22.

Moments later a great steal by Henderson sent Gilroy clear to take play into the English 22. England conceded a penalty and Ireland took the lead for the first time with McKinney nailing his third penalty to take he score to 23 – 25 in Ireland’s favour. An amazing turnaround with just over 5 minutes remaining.

However, careless play by replacement Shane Buckley, on for the influential Eoin McKoen, gifted England a penalty to retake lead 26 – 25 and with Buckley carded Ireland were up against it as the clock wound down.

With both teams out on their feet in the humid conditions it was England who managed to close out the game with their extra main finding the corner in the dying minutes. England’s outlhalf George Ford slotted the conversion out wide to deny Ireland a losing bonus leaving our boys to rue their woeful start in a game they could have won.

Final Score: England 33 Ireland 25.

Ireland now face South Africa on Tuesday evening (KO 7:10pm) in Treviso for what will be another tough game with South Africa currently cruising to a bonus point win over Scotland.

Ireland, however should  take a great deal of comfort of how their pack stood up to the English juggernaut and they certainly look to have a back line that will score against the South Africans. With two more pool games to go they are still in with a chance of causing an upset in this group. It may all come down to the last game.

Ireland (1-15). James Tracy, Niall Annett (C), Tadhg Furlong, Michael Kearney, Iain Henderson, Jordi Murphy, Dominic Gallagher, Eoin McKeon, Kieran Marmoin, Patrick Jackson, Andrew Boyle, Luke Marshall, Brendan Macken, Andrew Conway, Craig Gilroy. (16-22) David Doyle, Conor Carey, Daniel Qualter, Shane Buckley, Peter Du Toit, James McKinney, JJ Hanrahan.

2011-06-10 JWC Ire U20 v Eng U20
25 photos


  1. Super display overall by Mike Ruddock’s men – I was particularly impressed by Niall Annett leading from the front.

    Who knows what the score could have been if the referee didnt need the touch judge to help him find his yellow card – the English could only stop us in the second half by constantly infringing and I counted at least three occasions they could have been binned…that being said, Buckley’s yellow was totally justified and it was a ridiculous challenge at that time.

    The Baby Boks will be a stern test not just for the squad but for Ruddock himself.

    • Welcome aboard Jeff! [For those that don’t know, Jeff is another prolific blogger with his own site HarpinonRugby where you can catch up on the latest Leinster news and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!]

      Think this was a big chance for the Irish lads and unfortunately they blew it. They are, however, capable of two wins and stand a chance of getting into the 5th place play offs.