North Midlands number eight Max Hill helped England Counties Under 18s to give their lead coach Dave Reed the perfect retirement present with a dramatic last-gasp 13-11 victory in a thrilling finale to a successful International Triangular Festival at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire.
A try from right wing Myles Bean with just 59 seconds remaining on the countdown clock snatched victory for England and began jubilant celebrations at the final whistle.
There were three cheers for Reed, who has stepped down after a nine year involvement in coaching England Under 18 rugby, when the England players gathered in a huddle on the pitch at the end of a feisty contest.
Hill, who missed the warm-up match against Leicester Academy and who was an unused replacement against France Academies last week, played the full match against the Irish.
Ireland appeared to have won the game when their replacement full-back Luke Carty landed a penalty five minutes from time to open up a three points lead.
But England showed composure and character under pressure to win the game at the death. They spurned the chance to kick a penalty for goal and instead went for touch.
They won the five metre line out and managed to work an overlap on the right for Bean who outpaced the cover defence to score a well-taken try.
There was little to slit two sides who had each beaten a France Regional Academies Under 18 side in their opening matches of the festival.
There was no score in a tense and error-riddled first half until Ireland infringed under pressure from a break by England fly-half Jacob Atkins and centre James Shillcock landed the penalty which broke the deadlock.
But Ireland were on level terms again with six minutes of the re-start when England went off side and fly-half Liam Coombes kicked the equalising penalty.
England pressure eventually paid off when left wing Ben Usher crossed for a close range try 13 minutes into the second half but Shillcock’s conversion from the left hand touchline bounced out off the left goalpost.
Ireland rallied with tighthead prop Jack Aungier almost powering over from close range only to knock on as he went over the line.
But England’s defence eventually parted when Ireland worked an overlap for centre Sean O’Brien who scooted over for a ty.
Crucually, Coombes was unable to add the conversion which left the door open for England and another break from Usher gave them position from which they were able to set up Bean for the winning score.
15. Fergus Wood (Ardingly College, Hove RFC and Sussex)
14. Myles Bean (King Edward VI School, Bedford Blues RFC and Warwickshire)
13. Aaron Martin (Bilton School, Bedford Blues RFC and Warwickshire)
12. James Shillcock (Warwick School, Worcester RFC and Warwickshire)
11. Ben Usher (The Priory Academy, Newark RFC and Notts, Lincs & Derbyshire)
10. Jacob Atkins (St Pauls School, Bracknell RFC and Berkshire)
9. Ruaridh Dawson (Newcastle School for Boys, Blaydon RFC and Northumberland)
1. John Whittaker (Sandbach School, Sandbach RFC and Cheshire)
2. Owen MacCuish (Sandbach School, Sandbach RFC and Cheshire)
3. Ciaran Knight (St Peter’s School, Matson RFC and Gloucestershire)
4. John MacKenzie (captain, Runshaw College, Preston Grasshoppers RFC and Lancashire)
5. Cameron Gray (The Oratory School, Maidenhead RFC and Berkshire)
6. Joe Duffy (Myerscough College, Sale Sharks and Lancashire)
7. Justin Rowland (George Abbot School, Chobham RFC and Surrey)
8. Max Hill (Worcester Sixth Form College, Malvern RFC and North Midlands)
Replacements used: : Harrison Berresford (Hautlieu School, Jersey RFC and Hampshire), Tom Doughty (St Bartholomews School, Hove RFC and Sussex), Jack Conteh (Myerscough College, Sale Sharks and Lancashire), Josh Novell (Bedes School, Crowborough RFC and Sussex), Dylan Morris (Reed’s School, Wimbledon RFC and Surrey), Connor Hayhow (St Paul’s School, Bracknell RFC and Berkshire).