U20 6 Nations: Grand Slam champions off to a winning start, England with late drama, Italy stun Wales3rd February 2020
A day before the senior sides got underway, the men’s U20 Six Nations championship kicked off on Friday night with Wales v Italy and Ireland v Scotland, before France v England finished off the opening round on Saturday night.
Only one game went the way that the senior sides would the following day, with Ireland beating Scotland. However on Saturday England just pipped France, while 24 hours earlier Italy claimed scalp as they continue to show real promise at age-grade level, beating Wales.
The Italians were actually 7-0 down early on to Wales thanks to the work of former Oakham School star Sam Costelow. However the Italians hit back and would eventually take a 17-7 victory. 12 points from the boot of Paolo Garbisi and a try from Druidi helping them to finish the weekend in third, a point behind Ireland and England, and leaving Wales at the foot of the table.
Friday night also saw Ireland begin the defence of their Grand Slam title of last year and they went about it ferociously against Scotland, for whom this is a key U20 season as they chase promotion back to the World Rugby U20 Championships.
Ireland scored six tries on their way to victory, although Scotland themselves were to secure a try scoring bonus point too as the final score settled at 38-26 in Ireland’s favour.
Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Ahern, Andrew Smith, John McKee and Jack Crowley, twice, scored for Ireland, with Scotland scoring tries through Ewan Ashman, Jack Blain, Nathan Chamberlain, and a bonus point sealing 85th minute score from Cameron Scott, despite being down to 14 at the time.
A day later in Grenoble England did what their senior side could not and won away in France, though it did take a dramatic last play score from Exeter Chiefs flanker Richard Capstick to secure the 29-24 victory.
It was a game that really ebbed and flow Josh Hodge with an early penalty for England but that lead was quickly lost as Joris Moura hit three penalties for France. England bounced back though, former KES Bath star Max Ojomoh releasing Capstick’s Exeter teammate Rus Tuima to score, with former Sedbergh man Hodge landing the extras for a 10-9 lead.
England debutant Gabriel Hamer-Webb then saw yellow for a dangerous tackle, Moura putting France back in front from the resultant penalty, but it looked like England could handle being down to 14 when Hodge skipped over the line for his side’s second, Manu Vunipola converting for 17-12. They then extended that to 24-12 when former Wirral Grammar flyer Tom Roebuck pounced on a loose ball to score.
France came roaring back though, scoring tries through the rising star Jordan Joseph as well as Ethan Dumortier, with Cheikh Tiberghien’s extras leveling the scores at 24-24 each and with the field full of space with both sides down to 14 now.
France had the momentum, but it was England that would steal the victory as Capstick powered over after his side had regained possession from an untimely French knock on, England sealing a 29-24 victory that leaves them second to Ireland only on points difference after one round.
U20 Six Nations Round 1 Results:
France 24-29 England
Ireland 38-26 Scotland
Wales 7-17 Italy