Norfolk pair on top of the world after impressive win with England Under-20s
- Credit: PA
Norfolk players Will Evans and Tom West played their part as England beat Ireland in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Salford to claim the trophy for the third time in four years.
Evans, who learned his rugby at Wymondham, played the full game while former Diss junior West came off the bench in the 64th minute as England proved too good for Ireland, running out 45-21 victors at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Skipper Harry Mallinder scored two tries, converted five and scored a penalty – with Joe Marchant also weighing in with a brace of tries.
Callum Chick and Huw Taylor added a try apiece as England dominated the first half and led 21-0 at the interval.
Ireland, appearing in their first final at this level, performed better after the break and racked up three tries of their own through Adam McBurney, Shane Daly and Max Deegan.
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But England had the game won and managed to keep Ireland at arm's length to complete an impressive tournament and once again celebrate lifting the trophy.
Head coach Martin Haag paid tribute to his team after the comprehensive win, saying: ''We've shown incredible team spirit which is a key ingredient to any side. The performance was outstanding; I thought the way we adapted and turned defence into attack was brilliant. We played with high intensity, the first half was superb. We still missed some opportunities, and in the second period we let them back in, but the way the players handled the pressure over the 80 minutes is massive credit to them.
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'The first-half performance was electric to watch. That's how these guys want to play – they want to play an exciting brand of rugby. Sometimes there are a few errors that come with this, but they want to express themselves and it's great we've been able to implement that approach in a short space of time, they've come on leaps and bounds.
'These players have a huge amount of potential, they have a bright future ahead of them and this is just part of their rugby journey.
'The key thing for me is that they've made some friendships and bonds that will last for life and have made a little bit of history for themselves.'
Captain Mallinder added: 'I've gained some great experience during this tournament. It's an amazing opportunity to play with your mates, who you have played with through age-grade rugby, and test yourself against the very best in the world.
'It's been an amazing journey from when we first met up in Newcastle to this moment. It's been a huge squad effort, we were very unfortunate to lose the likes of Theo Brophy Clews, who was a big part of our group, but the resilience we showed after losing him and also Jack Walker, a key leader and personality, shows our character.
'To win the tournament was the icing on the cake. We've put in a lot of hard work, it's great to get the win as reward.
'It's been a great summer, what we've enjoyed most is the support and relationship we've had from the seniors and Saxons. We've heard from them throughout and that's a huge boost because as players that's where we want to be.'