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Bath Rugby’s Zach Mercer in dreamland after England Under-20s reach final

Bath Rugby’s Zach Mercer in dreamland after England Under-20s reach final

Bath Rugby starlet Zach Mercer could not contain his delight after England Under 20 sealed a dramatic 24-22 victory over South Africa in the semi-final of the World Rugby U20 Championship.

The side will now play either France or New Zealand in Sunday’s final at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium (live on ITV4, 3pm kick off, BST).

England had a five-point lead going into the break after Mercer and Alex Mitchell crossed for converted tries which Max Malins kicked along with a further penalty.

South Africa responded though with Juarno Augusto powering over either side of England’s tries with Curwin Bosch converting the first of those.

A converted try from Ruben Van Heerden and a penalty from the boot of Bosch gave South Africa a five point lead with a few minutes left on the clock, before a moment of brilliance saw captain Mercer score under the posts. Max Malins’ subsequent conversion sending England into the final.

England U20 captain Mercer said: “We’re over the moon to reach the final, it’s something you always dream of.

“I said in the changing room before the game we wanted to put ourselves in territory we’ve never been before and that’s what we’ve done.

“We’ll have a couple of days rest now. Credit to South Africa for putting in such a big performance.

“It’s either New Zealand or France in the final but the boys are flying and there are plenty of smiles in that changing room.”

England U20:
15. Tom Parton (London Irish)
14. Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby)
13. Will Butler (Worcester Warriors)
12. Theo Brophy Clews (London Irish)
11. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
10. Max Malins (Saracens)
9. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints)
1. Ollie Dawe (Bristol Rugby)
2. Joe Mullis (Gloucester Rugby)
3. Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
4. Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs)
5. Justin Clegg (Worcester Warriors)
6. Dino Lamb (Harlequins)
7. Ben Earl (Saracens)
8. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby) captain

Replacements:
16. Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby)
17. Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby)
18. Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby)
19. Max Davies (Newcastle Falcons)
20. Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby)
21. Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby)
22. Jacob Umaga (Wasps)
23. Paolo Odogwu (Sale Sharks)

Tries: Mercer (2), Mitchell
Conversions: Malins (2)
Penalties: Malins

England’s 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship fixtures:
England 74 v 14 Samoa: Wednesday 31 May – Avchala Stadium
England 34 v 22 Wales: Sunday 4 June – Avchala Stadium
England 20 v 19 Australia: Thursday 8 June –  Avchala Stadium
England 24 v 22 South Africa: Tuesday 13 June – Mikheil Meskhi Stadium
Final: England v TBC: Sunday 18 June – Mikheil Meskhi Stadium

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