Deacon pays tribute to England U20 character

England assistant coach Louis Deacon praised his side’s character and resilience after they advanced through to the World Rugby U20 Championship semi-finals.

The side will now face South Africa in the last four of the tournament after a narrow 20-19 victory over Australia in their final pool game.

Max Malins nailed a late penalty to seal their progress as they topped their pool with three successive victories.

“You’ve just got to give the guys huge credit, they know how to win games,” said Deacon.

 “The character they showed there at the end to keep digging away, they just never know when they are beaten.

“We didn’t get some of the decisions we probably deserved, but they stuck with it and experience got us through. It reminded me a lot of those last few minutes against Ireland in the Six Nations, it was a similar sort of feeling, the boys were outstanding.”

Deacon also believes there was an improvement in performance from the victory over Wales on Sunday. He also paid tribute to Malins for sending over the late penalty as well Gabriel Ibitoye whose sensational try sparked England into life.

“There were some big improvements from last week, the set piece was much better, there were still a few issues but it was nice to be able to go to the corner and score off a driving maul and get a forwards try,” said Deacon.

“Max landed a huge pressure kick, those ones aren’t easy, and he showed incredible composure to send it over. Fair play, he was outstanding.

“Gabriel had a difficult Six Nations and he has come into this competition with a new lease of life. We said he has got that brilliant finishing ability and he showed that. Today’s try was special, it’s all about character and he’s bounced back.”

England will take on South Africa on Tuesday (3pm), live on ITV 4 and Deacon is expected a similarly tough test in a repeat of last year’s semi-final.

“South Africa will be another huge challenge, they are big, it will be a battle up front and we’ll have to show more character,” he said. “It’ll be about who is the most resilient and the fittest and we are confident.”