- England Counties beat Ireland 15-13
- Hampshire’s Zach Clow scored two tries in tense match
- The two sides meet again this Saturday
England Counties U18s overcame Ireland Club and Schools 15-13 in a tense match at United Services Sports Ground in Portsmouth.
In difficult playing conditions, it was Ireland who dominated the first half despite a moment of brilliance from Hampshire’s Zach Clow to put his side ahead.
The outside centre made a sensational break from 60 metres out, beating several Irish players to touch down and make it 5-0 to England.
But Ireland responded well, controlling possession and using the power of their forwards to score 13 unanswered points, going into the break 13-5 up.
Despite trailing, England had put in a solid performance in the opening 40 and came out in the second half with plenty of intent.
Tighthead prop Isaac Thompson, a Leicestershire county player, began the comeback when he intercepted a pass from Ireland’s scrum half and showed impressive speed to score in the corner.
With England then trailing 10-13, it was the hosts’ turn to control possession and Ireland struggled to get out of their half in the second 40.
With 10 minutes left in the match, the pressure began to tell and a loose ball was pounced on by Clow who touched down for his second try of the game.
The 15-13 win leaves England in contention of doing the double over Ireland in the series having lost two close games to them last year.
“We knew how tough Ireland were going to be and they really proved that,” said team manager, Dave Penberthy.
“But we were really proud of how our boys played, they stuck with it and played some really good rugby particularly in the second half.
“We’re excited to go again on Saturday but we aren’t taking anything for granted and Ireland will be desperate not to lose another.”
England Counties U18s
15 Evan Davies – Oxfordshire & South West
14 Theo Barkway Hall – Surrrey & London & South East
13 Zachary Clow – Hampshire & London & South East
12 William Rigg – Warwickshire & Midlands
11 Aaron Grandidier-Nkanang – Kent & London & South East
10 Luke Bouchier – Hertfordshire – London & South East
9 Joshua Goodwin – Sussex & London & South East
1 Luke Spring – Hampshire & London & South East
2 Charlie Fleckney – East Midlands & Midlands
3 Isaac Thompson – Leicestershire & Midlands
4 George Cook – Sussex & London & South East
5 Oliver Moody – Hertfordshire & London & South East
6 Matthew Wilkinson – Oxfordshire & South West (Capt)
8 Edward Cox – Notts/Lincs/Derbyshire & Midlands
7 Austin Wallis – Surrey & London & South East
16 Harry Clayton – Leicestershire & Midlands
17 Jamie White – Worcestershire & Midlands
18 James Sherlock – Cheshire & North
19 Matas Jurevicius – Kent &. London & South East
20 Cameron King – Oxfordshire & South West
21 George Speakman – East Midlands & Midlands
22 Thomas Knight-Owen – Hampshire & London South East
23 Aaron Simmonds – Cornwall & South West
24 Harry Craven – Cheshire & North