Former North Midlands youth players Ted Hill and Kai Owen helped England Under-20s defeat Ireland 30-23 to reach the fifth place final of the World rugby Under-20 Championship in Argentina.
England will now face Wales, who beat New Zealand, at the Racecourse Stadium in Rosario on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm BST).
Former North Midlands Under-16s back-row forward Hill and loosehead prop Owen, who played for North Midlands Under-20s in the 2017/18 season, both started against Ireland and helped England avenge a defeat in the tournament opener. Hill and Owen both play for Gallagher Premiership club Worcester Warriors.
England led 13-6 at the break, with Josh Hodge scoring a try and converting his own score as well as adding two further penalties as Ireland responded through Ben Healy’s boot.
A second-half try from Sam Maunder, which Hodge converted as well as a further penalty increased England’s lead but late scores from Jonathan Wren and Brian Deeny which Healy converted levelled the game.
But with extra-time looming, Tom Willis bundled over to seal a dramatic late victory with Hodge adding a third conversion.
England lost Hill to the sin bin early on for a dangerous tackle on halfway and in that period Healy kicked a penalty for Ireland to give them a 10th-minute lead.
Hodge levelled the game with a penalty of his own, as Hill returned to the pitch and restored England to 15.
Healy kicked a further penalty with England offside midway through the half and before the break Owen was also sin binned for a dangerous tackle.
It was England who scored next though, Hodge nailing a long-distance penalty to again level the match.
Five minutes before the break Hodge had the first try of the game jinking his way over after England’s three-quarters had recycled the ball to the left wing with the Newcastle Falcon converting his own score.
Healy reduced the deficit to four points shortly after the restart before Hodge restored the advantage with a third penalty.
Maunder sniped over after a dominant England scrum on 5m, and Hodge’s conversion gave England a 21-9 lead.
Ireland lost hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin to the sin bin for a high tackle just before the hour but they were next to cross with Jonathan Wren going over in the corner after a sustained period of pressure to set up tense finish.
Moments later Ireland were level, Deeny charging down Maunder’s kick before diving over under the posts which Healy converted to equalise at 23-23.
England lost Rus Tuima in the closing stages, but they ended the game the stronger and after a period of sustained pressure Willis bundled over to win the game.
15 Tom de Glanville (Bath Rugby)
14 Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints)
13 Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints) – captain
12 Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks)
11 Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons)
10 Manu Vunipola (Saracens)
9 Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs)
1 Kai Owen (Worcester Warriors)
2 Will Capon (Bristol Bears)
3 Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)
4 Joel Kpoku (Saracens)
5 Alex Coles (Northampton Saints)
6 Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs)
7 Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester Rugby)
8 Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
16 Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks)
17 Olly Adkins (Gloucester Rugby)
18 James Kenny (Exeter Chiefs)
19 Tom Willis (Wasps Rugby)
20 Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)
21 Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie)
22 Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks)
23 Tom Seabrook (Gloucester Rugby)
24 Luke James (Sale Sharks)
25 Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish)