The Irish Exiles Under-19s and their Welsh counterparts put on a display of running rugby in the sun, in West London, on Sunday, October 23.
A crowd of approximately 1,000 people watched some excellent handling and continuity play as both sides put together 10 and 12 phases of rugby.
Unfortunately for the Welsh they faced an Irish side determined to impress the watching Ireland U-18 and U-19 selectors. The Welsh could not match the possession gained by the Irish eight in the lineout, scrum or breakdown. David Millard, an Ireland U-18 international, hardened by games in the Guinness A' league for Harlequins, dominated the scrums, while in the lineout Peter Browne, Daniel Collins and Flannan O'Mahony soared high.
At the breakdown, Ireland Under-18 international David Fenlon was his usual tearaway self and scored 3 tries - two in the first half and one in the second.
The first 13 points the Irish scored came from U-18 players Matthew Betty and Conor Armstrong (both of whom have been included in the first Ireland Youth training squad). Fenlon added 2 triess to these 13 points giving the Irish a 23-0 lead at half-time.
Despite some excellent handling by the Welsh in this half they could just not break the Irish defence. Both half-backs Shaun Phillips and Oliver Lancaster orchestrated play, smoothly switching the focus by bringing players onto the ball at pace both wide out or in the close channels. Conor Armstrong again confirmed the potential he displayed both at centre and fly-half on the Exiles U-18 trip to Ireland in August; he certainly seems to be a player for the future.
The Exiles continued to dominate possession throughout the second half with U-18 Matthew Betty displaying fast feet that a senior player would be proud of. The Welsh finally got on the scoreboard with a well-worked converted try (their 7-point total at the end of the game was a small return for the amount of good rugby they played).
Further Irish tries in the second half came from Lancaster, Betty, Fenlon, Nick Dart and Dan Johnston. Armstrong added 3 conversions.
The final score of 56 points to 7 did not reflect the contribution the Welsh made to an excellent game. It should be noted that the four match officials, led by referee Paul Knowles, played their part in achieving this high standard of rugby.
Starting XV: David Millard, Simon James, Andrew Cassidy, Daniel Collins, Peter Browne, Harry Rowland, David Fenlon, Flannan O'Mahony, Shaun Phillips, Oliver Lancaster, Tom Rayner, Conor Armstrong, Sean Flannery, Matthew Betty, Jonathan Lightowler.
Subs Used: Ian Larkin, Peter Gribbon, Joe Forde, Tom Cleary, Nick Dart, Tom Sharrock, Calvin van Vuuren.
Triess: Betty (2), Fenlon (3), Lancaster, Dart, Johnson. Cons: Armstrong (4). Pens: Armstrong (1).
Coach: Kevan Bell; Manager: Ces Shaw.