Connacht 16 - Ulster 14
The Connacht under 18s got off the mark in defense of their youth title with a 16-14 win at the Sportsground on Saturday, playing in perfect conditions in front of a large crowd of home and visiting supporters.
Andrew Fallon's first half try gave the under 18s hope after a tough start in which they conceded two tries scored by Adam Bratton and Chris Leathham and converted by Jonathan Rowan and trailed 14-3 after a half hour.
That late score, however ,narrowed the gap to six at the break and early in the second half Connacht were right back in contention when Jack Carty slotted an early penalty.
The game's key score came midway through the half with Mark Dolan making a brilliant break on the blindside after seemingly taking the wrong option He sidestepped two tackles kicked ahead and second row Daniel Qualter from Buccaneers won the race for the touchdown.
The closing stages were frenetic with a large amount of injury time adding to the stress but Connacht held out thanks to some gutsy defending and good ball retention.
Munster 20 - Leinster 17
Munster youths continued a good run when they beat a physically bigger Leinster side on Saturday in sunny Bruff RFC. Having beaten Irish Exiles 16 - 12 two weeks previous and facing the prospect of losing another encounter to Leinster, the Munster lads got off to a nervous start.
The boys in red quickly got back into the game and both sides offered up some fantastic running rugby. Munster kept the pressure up throughout the remainder of the first half and were rewarded after five phases of play inside the Leinster twenty-two. Out half Jonathan Holland moved the ball to the blind side and with wonderfully targeted pass, full back Derry O Connell sent Adrian Doyle over the line at the corner flag. Doyle slotted over a difficult two points.
Leinster struck back on the twenty second minute with an unconverted try. On thirty minutes Munster were awarded another penalty for offside at the ruck just inside the Leinster twenty-two. Number 8 & Munster Captain Kevin O Byrne who had an outstanding game took a quick tap and crashed over for the try. Doyle missed the conversion.
With the scores level at 12 - 12 Munster were awarded another penalty. Doyle had to leave the field with a serious hand injury & Derry O Connor took over kicking duties. The Abbeyfeale lad split the posts with ease. Munster led going into the second half 15 - 12.
Leinster wasted no time in getting stuck in and it was from a well drilled move that Paul Dean came into the line from his wing to score in the far corner. O' Loughlin failed to convert.
Munster displayed some great skills and the physical intensity of the performance increased as the game progressed. Jonathan Holland varied his game, from moving his backs to kicking ball behind the opposition when required. Ronan O Gara would have been proud to see the young Munster outhalf float a perfectly weighted kick from the touch line for Robbie Finn of Bruff to gather and offload to Kevin O Byrne who scored Munsters last try.
Head coach, John O Sullivan was very pleased with his team's performance. "This was a one to twenty two effort" John commented " I'm impressed that we didn't just talk about winning but we went out and worked hard right up to final whistle.