McGrath on song as Ireland U18s taste glory with win over England

IRELAND produced a superb performance to beat England and win the 2011 U18 Justin Bridou European Championship final in Tarbes on Saturday.

Led brilliantly by St Michael’s and Leinster scrum-half Luke McGrath, Ireland simply had too much for their English opponents, despite struggling at times in the scrum.

A solitary try by England prop Alec Hepburn late in the second-half gave the favourites some hope of mounting a comeback. But, in truth, it was the only blemish in what was otherwise a flawless defensive effort by Ireland.

Two McGrath penalties gave Ireland an early lead and they extended their control over proceedings just before the half hour mark when winger Conor McEllin forced his way over for a try. With the score at 11-3 at half-time, Terry McMaster’s side continued to dominate possession and territory with two further McGrath penalties sealing the game.

England, despite being down to 14 men, never gave up. Hepburn charged over in the corner after a great line break from number eight Jack Clifford. However, Hooley pushed his conversion to the right of the posts, leaving Ireland as victors.

IRELAND: R Scholes (Campbell College), C McEllin (Blackrock College), R Henshaw (Marist Athlone), C Farrell (Campbell College), M Roche (Blackrock College), S Olding (Belfast Royal Academy), L. McGrath (St Michael’s, capt); G Frayne (Clongowes Wood), B Byrne (Clongowes Wood), E Byrne (Clongowes Wood), J Sexton (St Mary’s College), G Thornbury (Blackrock College) D Lawler (St Michael’s), D Leavy (St Michael’s College), R Murphy (PBC Cork).

Replacements: L Satchwell (King’s Hospital) for Sexton (15), J Fitzpatrick (Gonzaga) for Scholes (25-30), J O’Neill (Castleknock) for Thornbury (40), C Taylor (Wallace HS) for Frayne (45), J Fitzpatrick for Scholes (54), C O’Halloran (CBC) for McEllin (68), D Shanahan (Belvedere) for McGrath (68), R. Scannell (PBC) for Olding (68).

ENGLAND: J Nowel, A Watson, M Jennings, S Hill, J Arnott, H Slade, A Day; A Hepburn, N Morris, D Herriot, T Jubb, D Barrow, D Sisi, M Hankin, J Clifford.

Replacements: J Lightfoot-Brown for Day (38), W Hooley for Slade (38), S Spurling for Morris (39), J Robinson for Sisi (45), T Smallbone for Herriot (45), M Webber for Arnott (50), J Buckle for Hankin (50).

Referee: A Blondel (France).

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