WALES U-19 31 IRELAND U-19 9, Stradey Park
Scorers: Wales: Tries: Daniel Evans 2, James Egan, David Langdon; Cons: Leigh Halfpenny 4; Pen: Halfpenny
Ireland: Pens: Eoin O'Malley 3
Justin Burnell's Wales Under 19 side shook off their first-half blues at Stradey Park to kick-off their season with a well deserved 31-9 victory over Ireland.
|Trailing 9-0 at the interval, they scored 31 unanswered points in the second half as Ireland wilted within the space of 40 minutes.
Having lost out to the Irish at Under 20 level two weeks ago the young Welsh Dragons were understandably keen to redress the current international balance.
Unfortunately, against a side who looked slick and eager in the opening 15 minutes, Burnell's side found themselves up against it as Ireland laid a comfortable platform deep inside the Welsh half.
With the IRB Under 19 World Cup on the horizon this was the first step towards the main event in Belfast later in the season and it was the Welsh side that emerged with the greater satisfaction.
Last season Wales managed to clinch a Grand Slam at this age group, and also beat the Australian Schools for the first time, but then found their luck running out at the World Cup in Dubai.
On that occasion the full Irish Under 19 side came out on top in the fifth and sixth place match and that side underlined its talent by beating Wales at Under 20 level in Swansea two weeks ago.
Many of the players on these two teams had met in the Four Nations Under 18 tournament in England last year, when Wales triumphed 35-14, and the margin of victory was one point greater for the home side this time round.
It came as no surprise that the Irish finally converted their mounting pressure into the first points of the game when outside half Eoin O'Malley kicked the first of his three penalties.
The Leinsterman spurned a second opportunity as Wales struggled to achieve parity at forward, but such was the dominance of the Irish forwards, especially at the breakdown, that Wales found it increasingly difficult to stem the flow.
A series of poor kicks under pressure from home outside half David Langdon compounded his side's problems and when Ireland won a line out, after one such sliced kick, Irish No 8 and skipper Paul Ryan was bundled into touch a metre short.
A minute later, however, the visitorsâ00 made that pressure count when O'Malley slotted his second penalty of the night. His third made it 9-0 and, at that stage, Wales, who had Ryan Bevington yellow carded, had spent all but two of the opening 40 minutes locked inside their own half.
If there was considerable frustration among the home fans in the first-half, they at least got something to cheer shortly after the break when full back Dan Evans broke through three flimsy tackles to score the first of his two tries in the right hand corner to launch that 31 points onslaught.
Leigh Halfpenny added the touchline conversion to narrow the gap to two points and all of a sudden there was a different complexion on proceedings.
That try galvanised the young Welshmen and, after a telling pick and drive from Sam Warburton five minutes later, James Egan bustled over for a try which Halfpenny once again converted.
Wales added a third try after 69 minutes - good hands from Rhys Williams and Luke Ford enabling Evans to dip inside replacement Tommy Seymour for a try that Halfpenny once again improved from wide out.
Ireland's demise was complete when captain Paul Ryan was yellow carded five minutes from time and, just for good measure, Halfpenny goaled the ensuing penalty.
There was one final sting in the tail for the visitors when Langdon gave the 1,000 strong crowd something to shout about as he intercepted a stray pass to cross for try number four.
Halfpenny converted from in front of the posts and Wales were convincing victors.
WALES U-19: Daniel Evans (Llanelli/Scarlets); James Egan (Cardiff/Blues), Luke Ford (Glamorgan Wanderers/Blues), Rhys Williams (Llanelli/Scarlets), Leigh Halfpenny (Neath/Ospreys); David Langdon (Ebbw Vale/Dragons), Gareth Williams (Glamorgan Wanderers/Blues); Ryan Bevington (Bridgend/Ospreys), Ben Roberts (Ebbw Vale/ Dragons), Patrick Palmer (Llantrisant/Blues), Haydn Pugh (Llangennech/Scarlets), Josh Turnbull (Llanelli/Scarlets) (capt), Jevon Groves (Cardiff/Blues), Lloyd Phillips (Narberth,/Scarlets), Sam Warburton (Glamorgan Wanderers).
Replacements used: Rhys Webb (Bridgend/Ospreys) for G Williams (45 mins), Huw Dowden (Beddau/Blues) for Roberts (48), Philip Price (Bridgend Athletic/Ospreys) for Bevington (63), Jimmy Norris (Bedwas/Dragons) for Egan (70), Gareth Owen (Maesteg/Ospreys) for R Williams, Lloyd Elliott (Tondu/Ospreys) for Palmer, Nathan White (Maesteg Quins/Ospreys) for Pugh (all 72).
IRELAND U-19: Adam Craig (Instonians/Ulster); Chris Cochrane (Coleraine Academical Institute/Ulster), Jamie Smith (Ballymena/Ulster), Murray Kinsella (Newtown School/Munster), Niall Morris (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster); Eoin Oâ00Malley (UCD/Leinster), Dave Moore (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster); Paul Karayiannis (RBAI/Ulster), Stephen Douglas (Ballymena/Ulster), Matthew Nelson (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Brian Cawley (UCD/Leinster), Ian Nagle (Glenstal Abbey/Munster), Kieran Essex (CBC Cork/Munster), Michael Entwistle (Ballymena/Ulster), Paul Ryan (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster) (capt).
Replacements used: Matthew Oâ00Regan (Northampton Saints/Exiles) for Cochrane (60 mins), Tommy Seymour (Down HS/Ulster) for Craig (67), David Foley (UL Bohemians/Munster) for Cawley (73). Not used: Paddy McCabe (Dublin University/Leinster), Stephen Archer (UCC/Munster), Michael Sherry (Ard Scoil Ris/Munster), John Downey (Presentation College Bray/Leinster), David Johnston (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Kris Greene (St. Mary's College RFC/Leinster), Mark Geraghty (Greystones/Leinster), William Stewart (QUB/Ulster).
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (England)