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England U20 coach and player verdicts on Kingsholm defeat

27 February 2010

  • Head coach assesses defeat in "very bizarre game"
  • Players want to put things right against Scotland

England’s Under 20 side suffered a setback against Ireland that ended their Grand Slam and Triple Crown hopes when they went down 25-10 at Kingsholm.

Ireland clung on and took their scoring chances clinically with full back Andrew Conway scoring two tries and wing Darren Hudson one.

England were awarded a penalty try before the break with Freddie Burns adding the conversion to go with his early penalty but couldn’t convert decent field positions into points.

Their chances of the taking the overall Under 20 RBS 6 Nations title are still alive, though, following wins over Wales (41-14) and Italy (16-10) with difficult away games against Scotland and France to come.

Joe Marler on the attack against Ireland

Photo: Getty Images

England head coach Mark Mapletoft said: "Overall we’re very disappointed, not only with the result but also with the performance. You just can’t make that many errors at any level and expect to win the game.

"The forwards have been pretty consistent with the way they’ve played and the set-piece has been good. But I just lost count of the number of times we coughed the ball up in and around their 22.

"Some of it was good defending on their part, getting over the ball strongly, but some of our option-taking was terrible. We did have a lot of territory and a lot of possession and then you’re kind of amazed when you end up conceding 10 points when they have a guy in the sin bin.

"It was a very bizarre game. We were five metres from the line and you’re thinking we’re 3-0 up and it’s going to be 10-0 and then we make a poor decision, turn it over, they hack it through and score under the posts. That encapsulated the whole game.

"We’ve played well for 30 minutes in three games and that was against Wales. Every time we moved the ball in this game we coughed it up and that’s purely a decision-making process. If it’s the same people making the same mistakes we have to pull them up."

Wing Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby) said: "We can’t seem to get the line-breaks and find our shape. The forwards are doing a lot of hard work and it’s us backs who are letting them down, unfortunately. It’s individual errors. Their tries came from nothing, one mistake from me, one from a turnover, one from a kick. They took their chances well.

"I made a mistake for one try. It happens. It doesn’t make me a bad player as long as I learn from it but right now it hurts. I will be judged for it but I’ve got to learn and move on.

"After every try they scored we stood under the posts and did think we were still in the driving seat, that we were the better team. But once they had three tries on the board we were chasing the game and they defended well. They put their bodies on the line and made it really hard. We couldn’t find our shape and didn’t look like scoring.

"Scotland and France will be hard but we’ve got to believe we are capable of winning them. We have nothing to lose now and we can go there. Grand Slam pressure is off now and we’ve got to prove ourselves as a team.

"No position for anyone is secure on the plane to Argentina [for the IRB Junior World Championship this summer]. I think we’ve got seven players out at the moment and every position is competitive. Everyone’s got to keep putting their hands up and keep performing."

Captain Jacob Rowan (Leeds Carnegie) said: "The lads are disappointed as they should be. Yes, we had good possession but we didn’t take our chances in the way we could have done. Credit to the Irish team, they were good, they came out firing, they put some good phases together and scored some decent tries. To be fair they took their chances well and that’s what you have to do in Test match rugby.

"I thought our set piece was fairly good, we were dominant at the scrum, we scored a penalty try from it which is always pleasing. We kept the ball going up the field quite nicely but just couldn’t execute in the final third.

"As a team we all try and work hard together. It’s not about players coming and going, because everyone buys into the situation we have here. That’s a positive thing and we’ve just got to work on our own performance, knuckle down and work for the full 80 minutes.

"I think it’s about patience and control and if we knock off for 20 seconds they can score. That’s the type of level we’re playing at. It’s about being able to concentrate and staying switched on for the full 80 minutes."

Replacement prop Joe Marler (Harlequins) said: "The manner of the defeat is the main thing. It’s hard to lose any game at any level, I’m not a great loser, but it’s when you don’t perform like we can that it hurts.

"There’s bags of talent in our team but individually we’re not good enough yet. Because we’re not pulling together individually it’s not working as a team and we’re bottling it and not taking chances to finish it off. It was particularly disappointing.

"It was very positive in the front row. Lee Imiolek had a great first 40 minutes all over the park, carrying, scrummaging; Jamie George as ever leading with his enthusiasm and his eagerness to play; and particularly Shaun Knight. He does the dog-work that goes unseen and week-in, week-out he does the gritty stuff that matters. It’s positive as a front row and a pack but as a team we’ve got to go forward.

"Scotland will be very passionate and up for the game but we’ll try our best, work hard in training between now and then and try and put right some of the wrongs from this game."