Under-20 Six Nations: Ireland U20s 10-14 England U20s
|Under-20 Six Nations Championship|
|Ireland (3) 10|
|Try: Coombes Con: Johnston Pen: Johnston|
|England (14) 14|
|Tries: Nay, Walker Cons: Malins 2|
England survived a nervy finale to beat Ireland and win the Under-20 Six Nations Grand Slam.
They went ahead through a converted try from Saracens lock Jack Nay.
Bill Johnston landed an Irish penalty but Henry Walker's try, converted again by Max Malins, made it 14-3 to England.
A converted Gavin Coombes try cut the gap to four points and although Ireland had the ball over the line at the death, they could not get it down and England escaped.
It was the first leg of a possible hat-trick for England within 24 hours, with the women adding a second Grand Slam by beating Ireland later on Friday, and Eddie Jones' men's team in action, also against Ireland, on Saturday.
England went into Friday's game as favourites having swept aside the rest of their opponents but a combination of Irish defiance, wet and windy conditions, and poor decision-making by the visitors kept things interesting throughout.
When England dominated the opening stages it seemed there would be only one winner but with captain Zach Mercer, outstanding for the rest of the tournament, making some poor choices off the base of the scrum they took a while to find their groove.
Even when Nay finally went over it served only to spark Ireland and they should have taken more from a relentless spell of pressure than three points from the boot of Johnston.
England flanker Tom Curry was very lucky to escape a card of some description for a blatant trip, but the visitors' defence was extremely committed and that ultimately made the difference, despite a stream of errors from the normally assured youngsters in white.
A try apiece from Walker and Coombes saw Ireland four points adrift and nerves began to affect England, who twice kicked the ball dead and overcomplicated several other bits of possession.
Ireland full-back Jordan Larmour was the outstanding player on the field and his knifing runs threatened to open England up on several occasions, but despite a ferocious late assault it was the visitors who were celebrating at the final whistle.