England men U20s were defeated 39-21 by reigning U20 Six Nations champions Ireland U20s at Northampton’s Franklin’s Gardens.

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Ireland led 29-7 at the break scoring tries through Alex Soroka, Hayden Hyde, Thomas Ahern and Ethan McIlroy, while England crossed via George Hammond.

Second half scores from Hugh Tizard and Theo Dan gave England hope but tries via Max O’Reilly and Ahern won the game for Ireland.

It was a first loss for England having defeated France and Scotland in the opening two rounds, while Ireland remain unbeaten.

Ireland started brightly and sent over an early penalty through Jack Crowley but England responded soon after with Hammond crashing through for a try which George Barton converted.

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WATCH: England Rugby head coach Eddie Jones and fly half George Ford look ahead to Sunday’s Six Nations clash with Ireland.

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The visitors had a try ruled out by the TMO for an earlier knock on, but they weren’t to be denied with Soroka bundling over in the corner after a period of sustained pressure.

Ireland had a second with Hyde going over after a fine offload moments earlier kept the ball in play and Crowley converted for 15-7.

A third followed through Ahern who crashed over as Ireland showed great patience to work their way through England’s defence and Ireland had a bonus point on the stroke of half time, with McIlroy crossing in the corner after a flowing team move.

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Tizzard went over soon after the break but O’Reilly had a fifth Ireland try after searing down the left wing to cross.

Dan bundled over off the back of a driving maul but Ahern’s try helped seal victory.

Head coach Alan Dickens said: “The performance wasn’t up to the standard of the previous two games. We were slow to start and even though we scored the first try we always seemed to be chasing the game once they took the lead.

“We didn’t slow their ball down, they played on the front foot and that put us under pressure defensively and we conceded some soft tries

“One of the big learnings will be to manage the game and to know when to play expansive rugby and when to control it. That will come with maturity and game understanding the more competitive fixtures we play.

“We have two games left in the tournament, we want to play well in those fixtures, continue to develop and hopefully finish with two victories. There were positives to take from tonight and we’ll focus on them and take it into the Wales game.”

Scorers

England U20 – Tries: Hammond, Tizzad, Dan Cons: Barton 3

Ireland U20s – Tries: Soroka, Hyde, Ahern 2, McIlroy, O’Reilly Cons: Crowley 2, Corkery Pens: Crowley

England men U20s side to face Ireland

15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers), 14. Gabriel Hamer-Webb (Bath Rugby), 13. Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks), 12. Charlie Watson (Saracens), 11. Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks), 10. George Barton (Gloucester Rugby), 9. Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs) – captain, 1. Sam Crean (Saracens), 2. Theo Dan (Saracens), 3. Luke Green (London Irish), 4. Hugh Tizard (Harlequins), 5. George Hammond (Harlequins), 6. Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs), 7. Josh Gray (Gloucester Rugby), 8. Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)

Replacements: 16. Ben Atkins (London Irish), 17. Emmanuel Iyogun (Northampton Saints), 18. Harvey Beaton (Saracens), 19. Chunya Munga (London Irish), 20. Rob Farrar (Newcastle Falcons), 21. Blake Boyland (Bristol Bears), 22. Will Haydon-Wood (Newcastle Falcons), 23. Max Ojomoh (Bath Rugby)

Ireland XV: 15. Oran McNulty, 14. Ethan McIlroy, 13. Dan Kelly, 12. Hayden Hyde, 11. Andrew Smith, 10. Jack Crowley, 9. Lewis Finlay, 1. Marcus Hanan, 2. John McKee, 3. Thomas Clarkson, 4. Thomas Ahern, 5. Brian Deeny, 6. Alex Soroka, 7. Sean O’Brien, 8. David McCann (C)

Replacements: 16. Tom Stewart, 17. Harry Noonan, 18. Charlie Ward, 19. Joe McCarthy, 20. Cian Prendergast, 21. Ben Murphy, 22. Tim Corkery, 23. Max O’Reilly.

Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)

Assistant Referees: Finlay Brown, Ross Mabon (both Scotland)

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