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Irish Schools earn tight win over New South Wales

Irish Schools earn tight win over New South Wales

Ireland came through a hard-fought encounter against the Australian Schools Champions 14-5, continuing their unbeaten tour run.

Ireland Schoolboys v NSW Schools was played in the magnificent setting of Cranbrook School in the Double Bay suburb of Sydney. The game was played on a very dry surface in blustery and occasionally damp conditions in front of a good crowd with a big Irish support.

The early stages of the game were evenly contested with both sides seeking territory in the opposition half.
Eleven minutes into the game Captain Diarmuid Laffan opened the Irish account with a well worked try following a driving maul. This try was converted by Conor Gildea to put Ireland 7-0 in the lead.

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Ireland continued to pressurize the NSW line but good home defence kept the visitors at bay despite good opportunities arising following big breaks from Barry O’Mahoney and Darren Cave. The Irish were dominating possession and No 9 Duncan Williams made a fine break from a scrum which was carried on by Fionn Carr. Unfortunately a forward pass brought the move to an end and NSW were able to clear their line.

It was now the turn of the home side to apply pressure on the Irish line but a well organised Irish defence held out to maintain their 7-0 lead at half-time. Seven minutes into the second half Ffanker O’Mahoney was replaced by Billy Holland and Hooker Gavin O’Meara was replaced by Sean Cronin. NSW were encamped in the Irish red zone but sound defence from Darren Cave and great work from Robert Kearney ensured that the Irish line remained intact.

Ireland came close to scoring 15 minutes into the second period of play but a knock-on and then a turnover in close succession allowed the home team to clear their line.
On 27 minutes of the second half, Ireland were awarded a penalty try after the home team had collapsed a driving maul following a lineout.This was converted by Conor Gildea to give Ireland a 14-0 lead with eight minutes to go.

On 29 minutes Conan Doyle replaced Conor Gildea and soon after this good defensive work from Peter Shallow prevented a certain NSW score.

On 31 minutes Rob Kearney was replaced by Jonathan Shortt. In injury time NSW reduced their deficit to 14-5 when they scored after a lapse of concentration in the Irish defence. The try was unconverted leaving Ireland deserved winners by 14-5.

Senior Vice-President of the IRFU, Andy Crawford has joined the party and was delighted with the victory as was the entire Irish party. It was a difficult match but the Irish lads responded well to all that the Australian Schools Champions could throw at them.

The squad now takes a break for exam results but our thanks are due to the hosts from Waverley College for their hospitality and generosity shown to the entire squad. Andrew Elliott, Vice Principal of Waverley, was responsible for organising hosting and training facilities and our grateful thanks go to him.

The Irish boys now have time to regroup before the next difficult encounter with Australia “A”at King’s School, Paramatta on Sunday 22nd.