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Rice's England U20 sunk by last-gasp penalty

England U20 were defeated 36-37 by Ireland courtesy of a late Sam Prendergast penalty in the the Six Nations Summer Series.

Alan Dickens' side got off to a lightning quick start as George Hendy finished off some slick handling from England's backs before Captain Emeka Ilione plucked the ball out of the air and sent Alex Harmes in under the sticks to make it 14-0 inside the opening five minutes. 

  • EnglandTries - Hendy (2), Harmes, Chessum, Summerfield, Stephens Cons - Smith (3)
  • IrelandTries - Gibbons, McCormick, PT, McLoughlin, Cons - Prendergast (3), Pens - Prendergast (3)

Ireland responded emphatically as Lorcan McLoughlin broke through the line and found Fionn Gibbons who ran in unopposed for the game's third try before the ten minute mark and moments later the men in green levelled things up when James McCormick dotted down to make it 14-14.

The Irish made the period of sustained pressure count when Rekeiti Ma'asi White's tackle over the line was deemed to be high and worthy of a penalty try by the TMO giving Richie Murphy's side the lead for the first time. 

Lewis Chessum hit back with a try off a charged down box kick but McLoughlin re-established Ireland's superiority on the scoreboard late on in the first half diving over from short range to make it 28-19 at the interval.  

Ireland continued to assert themselves after the break with Prendergast knocking over a penalty to stretch their lead to 12 in the 47th minute. England needed the next score and got it off the back of a powerful driving maul that saw substitute Mikey Summerfield crash over to cut the deficit to five.

Moments later a quick tap and go from Tom Carr-Smith put the Irish under pressure defending their line before a pinpoint pass was superbly finished off with an impressive acrobatic effort from Iwan Stephens in the corner. Smith's conversion attempt struck the upright as the scores remained level on 31-31 heading into the last quarter. 

Ireland regained the lead shortly after when Prendergast knocked over three points from the tee, but England struck back yet again when a beautifully placed crossfield kick from Smith found Hendy in space on the wide channel who crossed the whitewash for his second of the evening, making it 36-34 in the closing stages.

The decisive score came when Ireland's sustained pressure earned them a penalty from 50 metres out which Prendergast knocked over to give his side a slender 37-36 with 90 seconds left on the clock. With time running out England drove hard at the line but their challenge came to an end when Cunningham-South lost the ball forward on the five metre line drawing the referee's final whsitle and confirming Ireland's victory in an enthralling ten try back-and-forth contest. 


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