Bravura juniors show seniors how to attack

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The Independent Online
England A 56 Ireland A 26

In case the watching England players were in any doubt on the eve of today's Triple Crown match, their second string demonstrated that it is possible to begin, continue and end by playing all-out attacking rugby in yesterday's bravura performance at Richmond, writes Steve Bale.

The Athletic Ground was bulging with more than 6,000 spectators to see if the Irish could achieve their own A-level Triple Crown, but instead it was Anthony Diprose's team who thrillingly rampaged to their own five- match Grand Slam done at a points average of just over 40.

Yesterday there were seven tries - another useful reminder for the attendant seniors - but more important was that so many of this A-team, not least Diprose, showed themselves to have such significant international potential. With his ability to make a game coalesce around him, the captain could well be the forward-in-waiting to fill Dean Richards's mother-hen role for England.

Diprose thoroughly deserved his try, England's sixth, but the game was more of a personal benefit for the student outside-half Alex King with his 26 points. Plied with possession by a dominant pack, he and Andy Gomarsall played at half-back with the very authority for which Jack Rowell has been crying out at senior level.

Ireland's contribution of four tries was a tribute to their resilience as well as a keen eye for counter-attack which produced glorious long- range scores by Conor O'Shea and Richard Wallace. Wallace later added a second and Neil Francis concluded proceedings by galloping 30 yards.

But if anything, their defeat could have been worse and it was impressive to witness an England side containing only one full international, Paul Hull (three caps), so comfortably subduing opponents whose seven capped players including such old hands as Francis, Eric Elwood and Wallace, the latter a Lions wing.

England have long since given up picking people of such vintage for such a fixture, a policy that is reaping a rich reward in the developmental terms Rowell keeps going on about. The senior team's manager particularly enjoyed the gadabout performances of the prop Darren Garforth with his two tries. Likewise Tim Stimpson, Adedayo Adebayo and the superbly dynamic duo of Gomarsall and King.

England A: Tries Garforth 2, Gomarsall, Adebayo, Stimpson, King, Diprose; Conversions King 6; Penalties King 2; Drop goal King. Ireland A: Tries Wallace 2, O'Shea, Francis; Penalties Elwood 2.

ENGLAND A: T Stimpson (West Hartlepool); P Hull (Bristol), W Greenwood (Harlequins), N Greenstock (Wasps), A Adebayo (Bath); A King (Bristol University), A Gomarsall (Wasps); R Hardwick (Coventry), R Cockerill, D Garforth (Leicester), C Murphy (West Hartlepool), D Sims (Gloucester), M Corry (Bristol), A Diprose (Saracens, capt), R Jenkins (Harlequins).

IRELAND A: C O'Shea (London Irish); R Wallace (Garryowen), R Henderson (London Irish), S McCahill (Sunday's Well), J Topping (Ballymena); E Elwood (Lansdowne), A Rolland (capt); P Flavin, S Byrne (Blackrock College), A McKeen (Lansdowne), M O'Kelly (St Mary's College), N Francis (Old Belvedere), A Foley (Shannon), B Walsh (London Irish), L Toland (Old Crescent).

Referee: G Gadjovich (Canada).

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