Walshe lauds 'real' character
England Under-20 coach Nick Walshe heaped praise on his side's character when they beat the Baby Blacks 33-12 in Vannes on Tuesday.
The English side went into the tournament ranked in seventh position and were probably not given much chance against the most successful side in the competition's history. England came out and took the game to New Zealand and had a commanding 20-8 lead at half-time.
Walshe said: "The lads were absolutely unbelievable. From the first minute they put their bodies on the line – they were excellent.
"We knew that New Zealand would want to play with the ball in hand, and they did. They made it very tough for us, but our defence were brilliant," he mentioned.
Being able to hold off an onslaught from such a dangerous team like New Zealand was a testament to where this England side is at the moment.
"We showed real character to stay in front and I’m over the moon with the win," Walshe added.
English captain Jack Clifford was hugely influential for the English and was incredibly proud of the effort his side put in to claim such a prized scalp.
"I’m really proud of all of the guys – we executed our game plan and we’re really, really pleased to get the win.
"New Zealand are a tough side to play against, they don’t give you a second to think, but I felt that we were composed throughout and deserved the win.
The focus now shifts to the final against neighbours Wales on Sunday and Walshe knows what to expect but knows that they will be a different side to the one they beat in the junior Six Nations.
"Wales will be a tough challenge – we obviously know them pretty well from the Six Nations and they put in a massive performance against the South Africans, so massive credit to them and we look forward to seeing them on Sunday," he said.
New Zealand coach Chris Boyd spoke about his sides inability to take their opportunities and that was the difference at the final whistle.
"We lacked accuracy in execution at times that cost us 14 points. In the end this was the difference between the two teams.
"The team is very disappointed with the outcome of the match.
"The boys now have desperate resolve to get up for the match against South Africa on Sunday," Boyd mentioned.
English flyhalf Henry Slade knocked over 18 points in the win and produced a complete performance but took no credit for the win – acknowledging that it was a complete squad performance.
"Every player put a shift in tonight and that’s all you can ask – from 1 to 15 and all of the guys that came off the bench, it was a real squad effort," Slade said.