Bates targets response in Exeter
By Mark Stevens
England Under-20s head coach Steve Bates is targeting a response from his side at Exeter's Sandy Park this weekend after they slipped to defeat to Ireland in their opening Six Nations Championship match in Cork.
Undone 35-27 by the Irish, England - who included Exeter Chiefs trio Marcus Street, Sam Maunder and Rus Tuima in their match-day squad - will be hoping home comforts help aid them against visiting France (12:05pm kick-off).
In what prove a thrilling encounter at Independent Park, England held a four-point lead at the break with tries from Cadan Murley, Tom Willis and Josh Hodge, as well nine points from the boot of Marcus Smith.
Ireland crossed twice scoring tries from Dylan Tierney-Martin and Scott Penny, while Harry Byrne kicked 10 points for the home side. However, a second from Tierney-Martin and further points from Byrne gave Ireland the lead and they sealed victory with Cormac Foley’s late converted score.
Post-match Bates said: “It’s very disappointing to start with a defeat, but I’m most disappointed for the players. They have worked really hard and their reaction to the loss after the game shows how disappointed they are.
“They now have a great opportunity for them to bounce back against France which will be a tough game but ultimately they have learned that if they’re not at their best then teams will put them under a lot of pressure.
“You have to give credit where it’s due, Ireland absorbed a lot of pressure and capitalised when they got their opportunities and punished any mistakes we made.
“We played too deep in the first half and that gave them the opportunity to put us under pressure and they took their chances when they got them.
“There were flashes of some very good stuff and we’ve shown that if we create opportunities then we have the talent to finish them, what we didn’t do is look after the ball well enough and we tried to force it a little too much.”
England U20s: Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons); Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints), Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, capt), Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers), Cadan Murley (Harlequins); Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs); Olly Adkins (Gloucester), Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks), Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs); Joel Kpoku (Saracens), Alex Coles (Northampton Saints); Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester), Tom Willis (Wasps)
Replacements: Ben Atkins (London Irish), Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks), Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), 19. James Scott (Worcester Warriors), Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs), Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie), Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks), Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors).