The top-of-the-table encounter between England and Ireland at Franklin's Gardens in Northampton a week on Friday is likely to go a long way in determining the outcome of the U20 Six Nations title.
Defending Grand Slam champions Ireland will go there as Championship leaders, on a maximum 10 points, after picking up their second bonus-point win, 36-22 against Wales, while England's 21-17 win against Scotland puts them one point behind.
France, who sit third in the table, opened their account with a 31-19 victory against Italy at Stade Maurice David in Aix-en-Provence.
Doherty delivers for England
Having come through a tough test against France in the opening round by scoring with the last play of the game, England did not leave it quite as late to secure the points at Myreside in Edinburgh on Friday.
Even so, they were trailing with only 12 minutes remaining when Connor Doherty produced an outstanding finish to break the home side's hearts.
The visitors took a slender 14-10 lead into the interval with tries from Theo Dan and Freddie Steward either side of Ewan Ashman’s score, but the Scots were in front and sensed a famous victory could be on the cards when they were awarded a penalty try.
That England found a response under pressure for the second week running, delighted head coach Alan Dickens.
“We knew this would be a tough place to come and that proved the case but the players showed great character and composure to win the game," he said. "We probably didn’t have the majority of possession or territory so to come out on top is really pleasing and is testament to their character."
For Dickens, the Franklin's Gardens fixture will see him back on familiar ground as he only left his position as defence coach of English Premiership outfit Northampton Saints on the eve of the Championship.
“Our discipline is an area we need to look at and we will want a step up in performance against Ireland who are the Grand Slam champions at U20s," he said. “But it’s two wins from two which is a great start and now the players get to play in front of home support at Franklin’s Gardens in two weeks’ time and I know they will enjoy that experience.”
#FutureIsGreen— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 7, 2020
Despite the weather, another brilliant crowd here at Irish Independent Park tonight to get behind the Ireland Under-20s
The official attendance is
Thanks for your support, Cork!#ShoulderToShoulder pic.twitter.com/9t4egeoL18
Strong start key for Ireland
Playing in front of a near 5,000-strong crowd in Cork, Ireland stormed into a 31-7 interval lead against Wales, Jack Crawley converting a brace from Mark Hernan and tries from Dan Kelly and Lewis Finlay as well as slotting a penalty.
Wales' only response came in the 35th minute when Osian Knott crossed for the first of his two tries.
With the game effectively sewn up, Ireland's intensity dropped after the break and Wales restored some pride. Sam Costelow's penalty was followed by a penalty try as Wales mauled their way back into the game but they were unable to capitalise further when Ireland went down to 14 men following Joe McCarthy's yellow card.
Once back up to their full complement of players, Ireland scored again through Andrew Smith before Knott crossed for his second to give Wales the final say.
Comeback win for France
Buoyed by their 17-7 win over Wales in round one, Italy stunned France by taking a 19-7 lead.
Christian Lai set the tone by scoring almost directly from the kick-off and Mateo Drudi and Steve Varney joined him on the scoresheet either side of Les Bleuets' only try of the half, scored by Cheikh Tiberghien and converted by Thibault Debaes.
Crucially France were able to able to get back to within one score of the Azzurrini before the break thanks to a Nathan Farissier try and a second successful conversion from Debaes.
A pointless third quarter added to the tension but late tries from Ethan Dumortier and Yann Peysson spared France.