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Ireland cling on for 'A' victory
February 5, 2000

Leicester full-back Tim Stimpson hit the woodwork with an injury time conversion as Ireland clung on for victory in the A International at Northampton.

Trailing 7-21 at the interval, England battled back to within three points only to slip further behind before two late tries gave them the chance of a victory they did not deserve against the Irish.

Flanker Paul Gustard pulled England back into the game with a 79th minute try, and when a sharp-looking Will Greenwood flashed over in the second minute of injury time it looked as though the Irish were doomed.

But Stimpson, who had an erratic night at full-back, struck the upright to add to four earlier misses with the boot.

But it was Ireland's night, and it was only in the scrum where they looked under any sort of pressure after taking a 14-point lead in the opening 25 minutes with tries from flanker Simon Easterby, created by his scrum-half brother Guy, and centre John Kelly.

Fit-again Sale winger Steve Hanley pulled back a 28th minute try for England A, but fly-half Emmett Farrell struck with a try he converted himself on the stroke of half-time.

Two penalties from Stimpson gave England hope, and when Hanley finished brilliantly for a 64th minute try Ireland were rocking at 21-18.

They were steadied by replacement fly half Paul Burke who knocked over a 70th minute penalty and converted winger Denis Hickie's 76th minute try after Hanley had sliced an attempted clearance across field into the hands of lock Leo Cullen.

And then came England's late flourish but it was too little too late on a night when they piled up mistakes against the slicker-looking Irish.

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