Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

David McCann's brace helps Ireland youngsters to dream World Championship start

England Under-20s 26-42 Ireland Under-20s

Front foot: Ulster's Iwan Hughes runs at the England defence in yesterday's World Championship match
Front foot: Ulster's Iwan Hughes runs at the England defence in yesterday's World Championship match
Bursting through: Ireland's Ryan Baird (left) carries the ball in their victory against England in Santa Fe yesterday
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland got their World Rugby Under-20 Championship off to a dream start with a 42-26 win over favoured England in Santa Fe.

Rugby round up Newsletter

Game previews, plus expert insights and exclusive commentary from the Belfast Telegraph sports team.

With five Ulster youngsters in the starting line-up, Stewart Moore stole an opportunistic try in the first-half while flanker David McCann bagged a brace as Ireland took not only the win but also a try bonus.

The six tries and big scoreline told only half the story though, with England spending almost half an hour a man down after two yellow cards and a late dismissal for replacement hooker Alfie Barbeary.

England were slick with ball in hand but there was little they could do in the face of such ill-discipline, especially the needless red which was awarded for a tip tackle well away from the ruck.

Early on it was the peerless boot of Manu Vunipola, cousin of English international brothers Manu and Billy, that was dictating things.

The Saracens man knocked over an early penalty and was soon lining up a conversion too, this after England's quick hands were too much for Ireland's linespeed and Ollie Sleightholme was put away in the corner by his opposite wing, Tom Seabrook.

But in an early hole, the Grand Slam winners' response was almost immediate.

Captain Charlie Ryan got a big paw on an Ollie Fox box-kick and Ireland controlled the resulting line-out. The forwards did their part near to the line, but when the ball went out to Shannon out-half Jake Flannery showed good awareness to sneak over.

In what was a physical game played at a high tempo, Ireland lost Ulster No.8 Azur Allison to injury before Vunipola kicked another penalty.

Near the half hour mark, Ulster's Moore marked his debut with a try. Having missed out on the Grand Slam though concussion, the Malone centre showed keen knowledge of the law book to bag an opportunistic score after Fox had rolled the ball back over his own try-line from a ruck, negating the offside line.

Flannery's conversion gave Ireland a first lead of the day and England were reduced to 14-men for five minutes either side of half-time after Aaron Hinkley was yellow carded.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, England won the sin-bin period 3-0, yet another well-struck Vunipola penalty restoring their lead.

A missed opportunity for Ireland was even moreso when England scored again, Sleightholme bagging his second of the game following good work from centres Fraser Dingwall and Cameron Redpath.

But with half an hour to go, England were back down to 14, Vunipola this time sent to the sidelines for a high hit.

The resulting penalty was sent to the corner and McCann barged over off the maul. The subsequent conversion knotted the score at 21.

McCann would score again before Vunipola returned, but a try from Seabrook was sandwiched in between.

With only two points in it, a dramatic final quarter loomed but Barbeary's moment of madness left his side with it all to do, and after impressive replacement Ben Healy went over in the corner, Ireland flanker John Hodnett made the game safe late on.

Earlier in the day, Australia enjoyed an 36-12 win over Italy to open Pool B.

The Wallabies, who are the the Oceania champions, had the bonus-point wrapped up just after the hour mark in a game they led 36-0.

The competition resumes on Saturday, with Ireland facing Australia at 2.30pm (BST).

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph