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England Under 20s beat Italy but miss out on title

15 March 2014

  • England U20s put eight tries past Italy at Stadio Peroni
  • Extremely proud to be a part of this team – Itoje

Italy Under 20s 5 England Under 20s 52

Maro Itoje

Photo: Getty Images

England Under 20s had to settle for second place in this season’s Six Nations, despite beating Italy 52-5 at the Stadio Peroni.

France’s 23-13 win against Ireland secured Les Blues a Grand Slam, but England Head Coach Nick Walshe says that he’s “immensely proud” of his side.

England lost their opening game of the competition 21-15 to France, but bounced back with wins against Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Italy – racking up a points difference of +158.

Against Italy, tries from Joel Conlon, Maro Itoje, Harry Sloan, Aaron Morris, Tom Woolstencroft, Callum Braley, Henry Purdy and Nathan Morris put England on the way to the win while Sam Olver added ten points with the boot, and Aaron Morris two.

Italy were at their imposing best during the opening exchanges, but it was England who had the opening score.

A smart kick into touch from Olver put the hosts under pressure and after captain Maro Itoje stole the resulting line-out Conlon was on hand to touch down. Olver added the two to make it 7-0 after ten minutes.

Tries kept on coming for England

England’s second came courtesy of another member of the back row – Itoje – who showed good strength to touch down for his fifth try in as many games to make it 14-0 after Olver’s successful kick.

It stayed 14-0 until half time but England side flew out of the blocks in the second forty. First Sloan crashed over after picking a good line, before Morris caught a cross-field kick from Olver to touch down on his first Under 20s start to make it 26-0.

The tries kept on coming for the visitors and replacement hooker Woolstencroft went over for his maiden U20s try before replacement No. 9 Braley raced over for England’s sixth.

The seventh came after 65 minutes when England played the ball through the hands and Tompkins’ pass found Purdy who was on hand to dive over. Italy did give the partisan crowd something to cheer with ten to play when they touched down a rolling maul to make it 47-5.

England’s eight and final try came with the last play of the game – wing Earle picked up the ball in his own half and showed a clean pair of heels to the Italian defence before diving over in the corner for 52-5.

Walshe said: “The first half wasn’t exactly what we planned, Italy made it tough for us all over the park, but we executed our game a lot better in the second period which was pleasing.

“The players have been absolutely magnificent throughout the tournament, especially after a disappointing start against France – a game we felt we were good enough to win, but circumstances out of our control had an affect.

“We’ve developed hugely over the course of the tournament, the performances have been extremely encouraging. I’m immensely proud of the whole group – not just the players but the management too. We’re growing as a team and our total focus is now on preparing for us to be able to perform at the Junior World Championship in June.”

Captain and England’s BMW Man of the Tournament Itoje added: “I’m extremely proud to be a part of this team, and while we’re disappointed not to win the Championship, we feel as if we have really grown as a group. There’s a bit of time between now and the Junior World Championship but it’s something we’re focused on and we want to go out there and perform as well as last year’s group.”

Points: Conlon 1T, Itoje 1T, Sloan 1T, Morris 1T, Woolstencroft 1T, Braley 1T, Purdy 1T, Earle 1T; Olver 5C, Morris 1C

England Under 20s starting XV against Italy

15 Aaron Morris (Bedford Blues) 
14 Howard Packman (Northampton Saints) 
13 Nick Tompkins (Saracens) 
12 Harry Sloan (Harlequins) 
11 Nathan Earle (Saracens) 
10 Sam Olver (Northampton Saints) 
9 Henry Taylor (Loughborough University) 

1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints) 
2 Harry Thacker (Leicester Tigers) 
3 Scott Wilson (Newcastle Falcons) 
4 Tom Ellis (Bath Rugby) 
5 Jonny Hill (Gloucester Rugby) 
6 Maro Itoje (Saracens, captain) 
7 Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs) 
8 James Chisholm (Harlequins)

Replacements:

16 Tom Woolstencroft (Bath Rugby) on for Harry Thacker 45 mins 
17 Alex Lundberg (London Wasps) on for Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi 58 mins 
18 Paul Hill (Leeds Carnegie) on for Scott Wilson 58 mins 
19 Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby) on for Maro Itoje 65 mins 
20 Hayden Thompson Stringer (Saracens) on for James Chisholm 45 mins 
21 Callum Braley (Bristol Rugby) on for Henry Taylor 62 mins 
22 Billy Burns (Gloucester Rugby) 
23 Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers) on for Howard Packman 37 mins