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England fight back from slow start to overcome Ireland

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England came back from a 1-7 deficit midway through the first half to beat Ireland and stay on course for 5th place and blue division status.

After the early setback, England levelled on the stroke of half-time and the game was still tied with under nine minutes to go before going ahead for the first time.

England outshot the Irish 44-25 but were often wasteful, along with 10 saves from Ireland goalie Connor Kelly.

Things got off to a difficult start with Ireland going 0-2 up, and while Dan Smith scored a good goal coming out of defence on a fast break, the Irish added three more before the ¼ time to lead 1-5.

England struggled to win possession from the face-off and when they did have ball, weren’t clinical with their chances, while Ireland were shooting at over 50% as they went 1-7 up, with solo drives to goal continually getting reward.

It wasn’t until 27:01 that England got on the board again through Alex Russell, at which point the momentum began to swing.

Another goal from Nick Watson on a man-up a minute later had England on the front foot, playing with a new-found aggression and speed.

Further goals from both Alex and Sam Russell and Jimmy Yanes closed the gap to one, and when Pete Hayes hit a leveller right on the buzzer courtesy of Ryan Hunns’ feed, who tallied 4 first-half assists, the game was tied at the break.

Unfortunately, the interval killed England’s momentum and Ireland started brighter, restoring a two-goal lead and giving England work to do once again.

Watson halved the deficit again, popping up free on the crease to take Zac Guy’s pass, and after good pressure on the ride forced a turnover, Yanes was free to level the game at 9-9 heading into the final quarter.

The final 20 became a tense affair, and while England dominated possession and shots, couldn’t get ahead until Josh Sherry-Brennan fired England in front for the first time.

It still wasn’t game over though, and after a number of penalties went against England, the defence had to see off an incredible three-man down situation which ended with Ireland spilling possession.

Sam Russell then looked to have put the game to bed with less than two minutes to play, going 11-9 ahead, but England again gave away possession with a minute to go and a diving finish halved the lead with 30 seconds to play.

However, a vital win at the resulting face-off allowed the lads to run the clock down and take a valuable win.

The win guarantees a top-8 finish and today England will take on hot-shot newcomers, Puerto Rico who lost their play-in Quarter-Final 14-7 to Iroquois.

The winner of today’s game will advance to the 5th/6th play-off and most importantly, secure their place in the blue division.

England Points: Ryan Hunns (0,4), Alex Russell (2,1), Nick Watson (2,1), Jimmy Yanes (2,0), Sam Russell (2,0), Christian Scarpello (0,2), Dan Smith (1,0), Pete Hayes (1,0), Josh Sherry-Brennan (1,0), Zac Guy (0,1)

Ireland Points: Aaron Cahill (3,0), Luke Palmadesso (2,0), Corey McMahon (2,0), Edward Forst (1,0), Colin Grippo (1,0), Daniel Kelly (1,0), Taylor Wallace (0,1)