England Under-20s sit on top of the Under-20 Six Nations table after a hard-fought 19-14 win against Ireland in Dublin.
Second half tries from Piers O’Conor and Joe Marchant set England on their way, while James Mitchell added nine crucial points with the boot.
Head coach Jon Callard said: “I’m hugely proud of the lads – they put in an excellent performance and fully deserved the win.
“Ireland were physical and they were a constant threat throughout, but we showed real character and I’m delighted with the way we held firm and got the victory.”
After both sides missed early penalties, Ireland drew first blood on 13 minutes when fly half Ross Byrne sent one between the posts for 3-0.
With 20 on the clock Byrne doubled the lead from in front of the sticks to make it 6-0 before Mitchell cut the deficit in half for 6-3.
England were reduced to 14 men when Will Owen was sent to the sin bin as Byrne made it 9-3 in front of the posts. But England ended the half strongly and Mitchell made it 9-6 as Ireland had Lorcan Dow sent to the bin.
England brought Piers O’Conor on for Aaron Morris at the break and the impact was immediate. Three minutes into the second half O’Conor gathered a loose Byrne kick and turned on the afterburners to score in the corner to make it 11-9 to England.
Ireland hit back though and regained the lead when Stephen Fitzgerald scored in the corner for 14-11. A third Mitchell penalty levelled the game at 14-apiece before Marchant stepped inside his man to make it 19-14 – his fifth try of the Six Nations.
Captain Charlie Ewels said: “This was a huge game and to come out of it with a win is massive for us. Ireland came out of the blocks and had a pretty vocal home crowd behind them, but credit to our boys, we stuck at it and ground out the win.
“We knew we were in for a tough game, and even when we managed to get ahead we knew that we couldn’t let up because Ireland kept pushing.”
Ireland U20: Ross Byrne 3P; Stephen Fitzgerald 1T
England U20: James Mitchell 3P; Piers O’Conor 1T, Joe Marchant 1T
England Under-20 starting XV
15 Aaron Moris (Saracens)
14 George Perkins (Saracens)
13 Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
12 Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
11 Howard Packman (Northampton Saints)
10 Oliver Bryant (Leicester Tigers)
9 James Mitchell (Sale Sharks)
1 Ellis Genge (Bristol Rugby)
2 Jack Walker (Yorkshire Carnegie)
3 Ciaran Parker (Sale Sharks)
4 Kieran Treadwell (Harlequins)
5 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, captain)
6 Joe Batley (Gloucester Rugby)
7 Will Owen (Leicester Tigers)
8 James Chisholm (Harlequins)
16 Jack Innard (Exeter Chiefs) on for 65 mins
17 Seb Adeniran-Olule (Harlequins) on for 65 mins
18 Paul Hill (Yorkshire Carnegie) on for Ciaran Parker 52 mins
19 Charlie Beckett (Leicester Tigers) on for Joe Batley 52 mins
20 Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) on for Will Owen 63 mins
21 Will Homer (Bath Rugby) on for Oliver Bryant 59 mins
22 Piers O’Conor (Wasps Rugby) on for Morris 40 mins
23 Tom Howe (Wasps Rugby)
England U20 Six Nations fixtures
Wales U20 21-15 England U20
Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay
England U20 61-0 Italy U20
The Brickfields, Plymouth
Ireland U20 14-19 England U20
Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin
England U20 v Scotland U20
Darlington Mowden Park, Darlington
13 March, kick-off 5.30pm
Live on Sky Sports
England U20 v France U20
American Express Community Stadium, Brighton
20 March, kick-off 7.55pm
Live on Sky Sports