- U19 England Academies show class in five-try win over Ireland
- We relied on our ability with ball in hand – George Ford
Photo: Getty Images
The U19 England Academies side produced a strong performance against their Irish counterparts in the uncapped international at Old Belvedere RFC in Dublin, winning 31-13 in chilly conditions.
Leeds Carnegie flanker Chris Walker scored two tries for Rob Hunter’s side, while debutant No. 6 Ben Nutley (Northampton Saints) also got in on the act, carrying the ball over in the first half.
The impressive Elliot Daly (London Wasps) scored late on before Charlie Walker (Harlequins) rounded off the scoring for England.
England had slipped behind to an early try by Ireland but a fine display of explosive rugby blew their opponents away in the second half.
With U20 stars Daly, George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Ben Ransom (Saracens), Dan Robson and Ryan Mills (Gloucester Rugby) all starting, England were superb with the ball in hand while the defence held firm at key points throughout the match.
Despite the scoreline suggesting total dominance, captain George Ford admitted that it was a tough contest: “It wasn’t an easy one – despite what the scoreboard says. The breakdown was hard but we managed to get through it and it was good to notch up another win.
“I was impressed with our attacking play – I think the first try we scored through Chris Walker was excellent and our movement throughout was very impressive, we didn’t kick it too much and relied on our ability with ball in hand.”
With Rob Hunter also in charge of the U20 set up, Ford believes that these fixtures are imperative to the development of some players:
Privilege to captain these players – Ford
Photo: Getty Images
“It’s massive. It gives those lads the opportunity to show what they can do in front of Rob and Diccon Edwards and I think they all did that today. The performances from 1 to 22 were all good and it was a privilege to captain them and we just need to keep improving.”
Hunter himself was equally pleased with the performance, particularly given the limited training with the squad: “Considering we didn’t have much preparation time I was very impressed with the performance of the lads," he said.
"It was a good game from both sides and it was consistently refereed, so I’ve got no complaints. We talked about the mindset of playing the Irish in Ireland before the game and we didn’t want the occasion to affect us, and I don’t think we did.
"Their U20 side have lost just once in 13 matches over here so it’s a tough place to come but we really stood up and were counted today.
“Obviously this age grade is one step off the U20 squad so from my point of view it’s good to see these players in a competitive environment. It’s useful for us to keep in contact with guys like George Merrick as well as looking at lads who haven’t featured for us, players like Ben Nutley and Will Carrick-Smith.”
U19 England Academies squad
Starting XV: 1 Nick Auterac (Saracens), 2 Will Tanner (Bath Rugby), Ant Brennan (London Wasps), 4 George Merrick (Harlequins), 5 Will Carrick-Smith (Exeter Chiefs), 6 Ben Nutley (Northampton Saints), 7 Chris Walker (Leeds Carnegie), 8 Will Skuse (Bath Rugby), 9 Dan Robson (Gloucester Rugby), 10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers), 11 Charlie Walker (Harlequins), 12 Ryan Mills (Gloucester Rugby), 13 Elliot Daly (London Wasps), 14 Curtis Wilson (Leeds Carnegie), 15 Ben Ransom (Saracens).
Replacements: 16 Ethan Waller (Northampton Saints), 17 Mal Hearn (Exeter Chiefs), 18 Dan Lee (Exeter Chiefs), 20 Jonah Holmes (London Wasps), 21 Joel Hodgson (Newcastle Falcons), 22 Tommy Bell (Sale Sharks).