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Classy England into Under-20 final but Haag wary of Ireland threat


England Under-20s coach Martin Haag insists that despite lighting up the competition so far, his side will go into the World Rugby Under-20 Championship final against Ireland as underdogs.

The Red Rose marched into the final showcase at Sale Sharks’ AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday courtesy of a 39-17 victory over South Africa.

Plenty of the Aviva Premiership Rugby’s brightest starlets were on show, with Max Green, Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors), Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins), Johnny Williams (London Irish) and Max Malins (Saracens) all scoring before the break to give England a commanding advantage.

Skipper Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints) knocked over another nine points off the tee, before replacement Max Wright added one final try with the Baby Boks threatening a comeback with two scores early in the second half.

And with Six Nations rivals Ireland now all that stands between them and a third world title in four years, after the men in green defeated Argentina 37-7, Haag is relishing seeing his charges on the biggest stage.

"We are really looking forward to final against Ireland and we need to make sure we turn up for the occasion," he said. "We are delighted to get to this position but we have got another job to do.

"Ireland were superb in their victory and I think that the way they played today will place them as favourites.

"For us we I think there are still some things that we can improve on. We're looking forward to Saturday already, it should be a great day.

"This group of players surprise me every time they go out on the field with their intent and the way they want to work hard for each other.

"The first half was outstanding, we played with pace and transitioned well between defence and attack – our defence was strong and we scored some tries off the back of that, our attack was fantastic.

"We didn’t finish the game off as well as we would have liked but some great rugby in that first half and that did the job for us."

Meanwhile man-of-the-match George Nott now is set to play an international final at the stadium where he plays his club rugby, and the Sale Sharks flanker is urging the Manchester fans to turn out in their droves once again.

He said: “It’s an amazing feeling having the fans behind us.

“When we played against Australia it made such a difference, it was a really good feeling to be out there and see so many Sale shirts in the crowd, I really enjoyed it.

“The team were awesome against South Africa and I think we showed what we can do. We are a really dangerous team both in attack and solid in defence.”

For tickets and more information about the World Rugby U20 Championship visit: #FutureStarsofRugby

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BATH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Maro Itoje of  Saracens is tackled by Max Lahiff of Bath during the Aviva Premiership match between Bath Rugby and Saracens at the Recreation Ground on December 3, 2016 in Bath, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)