Title Holders England Kick Off World Rugby U20 Championship in Style

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Ireland v England - U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship
The England team runs onto the pitch during an under 20 match between Ireland and England at Donnybrook Stadium on March 17, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England’s began the defence of their World Rugby U20 Championship title with a thumping 74-17 win over Samoa.

Twelve tries, including a double from captain Zach Mercer, secured the bonus point in the opening round at the Avchala Stadium in Georgia.

It was the first ever meeting between the two sides. England’s power and strength was all too much for the Samoans despite finishing with two tries themselves late on. Much of England’s talk beforehand centered around being unpredictable in attack. In doing so, the World Champions attacked from the start, scoring two tries in the opening 10 minutes.

Fly-half Max Malins was promoted to the starting lineup following a late injury to Theo Brophy-Clews. Malins appeared in fine form – controlling the game in the first forty, before touching down himself after just 12 minutes.

Discipline Hampers Samoan Effort

Samoa offered little in attack, with errors and discipline hampering any chance of getting on the front foot. A yellow card for Losilosivale Filipo following a high tackle in the early exchanges made the defensive effort even harder.

Further tries from Ali Crossdale, Mercer, Alex Mitchell, Dominic Morris and Gabriel Ibitoye opening up a healthy 43-3 lead at half time.

England rang the changes at half time and the replacements continued the second half as the first finished. Five more tries sealed the game in emphatic style. Crossdale rounded of an impressive debut for the U20’s with a second score before limping off injured.

Despite offering little resistance, Samoa touched down twice late on through a Filipo double. Another yellow card midway through the second forty added insult to injury for the Pacific Islanders. This time Peato Toeafe penalised in a maul.

England Have the Credentials to Retain World U20 Title

England’s ability to turn defence into attack proved once again that they have the credentials to score from anywhere. As the tournament progresses, it could prove a likely weapon to seal games in tight situations.

As round one draws to a close, England’s intensity could be the difference as they progress further in the World Rugby U20 Championship. The competition’s front runners will only seek to improve and with Wales and Australia to come, confidence will be sky high.

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