England Under-20s head coach Alan Dickens believes his side’s lack of game management proved costly after going down 39-21 to Ireland at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night.
Both sides were unbeaten heading into the clash, but it was Noel McNamara’s side who emerged victorious after a battling performance away from home to make it three wins from three.
England drew first blood in Northampton through George Hammond, but the visitors fought back with four first-half tries of their own to give them an unassailable lead, and Dickens knows there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the defeat.
“The performance wasn’t up to the standard of the previous two games. We were slow to start and even though we scored the first try we always seemed to be chasing the game once they took the lead,” the England boss said.
“We didn’t slow their ball down, they played on the front foot and that put us under pressure defensively and we conceded some soft tries.
“One of the big learnings will be to manage the game and to know when to play expansive rugby and when to control it. That will come with maturity and game understanding the more competitive fixtures we play.”
Ireland have their eyes set on a second successive Grand Slam after their impressive victory on the road, with Italy next up before a trip to France to end the Championship in three weeks’ time.
England will be left hoping for results to go their way if they are to taste a first Championship victory since 2017, but Dickens is keen to make sure standards don’t drop in the two remaining matches.
“We have two games left in the Championship, we want to play well in those fixtures, continue to develop and hopefully finish with two victories,” Dickens said.
“There were positives to take and we’ll focus on them and take it into the Wales game.”