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Irish Schools go down down under

Irish Schools go down down under

Ireland lost their final match of the tour when they went down 23-12 in the test match versus Australia in Canberra. A brave comeback bid wasn’t enough, but they will return very proud.

Ireland lost their final match of the tour when they went down 23-12 in the test match versus Australia in Canberra.

The Australians outscored the Irish by four tries to two, with winger Fionn Carr and centre Darren Cave getting Ireland’s scores. Fullback Rob Kearney converted one of the scores.

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Match Report

Ireland went down under in this international schools test against Australia by 23-12. Having won all their matches on the tour to date, the Irish boys approached the game in a confident frame, but very much aware of the size of the task ahead.

Conditions were perfect as Ireland kicked off and an early break by number eight David Pollock was positive, but resulted in a penalty to Australia when he got isolated.

A knock-on in the lineout was a sign that the boys were a bit nervous and the early stages were dominated by a fluent Australian side retaining possession through the phases.

Australian fly half Christian Lealiifano showed some nice touches and a deft kick behind the Irish backline kept the visitors under pressure. This pressure led to another penalty and a quick tap gave Saia Faingaa a try after only 5 minutes.

This rocked Ireland on their heels and their woes continued when a charge down by Australian flanker Will Brock led to another score when Lealiifano touched down after 16 minutes.

It was only in the second quarter that Ireland got some fluency into their game and retained possession themselves. They eventually secured their first penalty from within kicking distance but, as they were playing into the wind, they decided to kick to touch. Aggressive Australian tackling prevented the try however.

Australia made full use of the reprieve when flanker Beau Robinson set up an Australian penalty with some strong running. Full back Nicholas Woolf capitalised to extend the scoreline to a comfortable 13-0 to Australia.

But Ireland weren’t about to give in and managed to put Australia under pressure in their own 22 again. However, the rolling maul, such a dangerous weapon in previous matches, is being cleverly combated by the Australians who are preventing it being set up from the lineout.

Ireland had a narrow escape when dangerous winger, Leon Bott, showed good pace and nearly got the touch to a kick ahead. But Ireland countered well, and in the end Australia were lucky not to concede after good work from scrumhalf Duncan Williams and flanker Michael Essex.

After turning around 13-0 in arrears, Ireland came on strong after halftime. The ball was moved quickly after a good forward drive and some great continuity and right wing Fionn Carr made it in in the corner five minutes into the second period.

The kick off was returned with interest by full back Robert Kearney who made a 50 metre gain. Unfortunately the good work was spoilt at the lineout with a penalty for pulling down.

But the pressure wasn’t maintained and, after two quick penalties, Ireland were caught napping. Good combination work between Lealiifano and centre Alec Bishop saw the latter dotting down ten minutes into the second half to stretch Australia out to 18-5.

Further damage was averted when the dangerous Bott nearly made it in. Ireland were struggling to make headway against a smart Australian centre pairing.

But Ireland aren’t gone yet. Centre Darren Cave bursts through the centre to score a try after 24 minutes following good phases and a magnificent conversion by fullback Robert Kearney not only brings Ireland back within a converted try at 18-12, but also gives renewed hope.

With replacement Irish flanker Barry O’Mahony looking dangerous with ball in hand as Ireland desperately attacked the Australian line and put Australia under huge pressure. As the game entered its last stages, Bott relieved the pressure on the Australians with a couple of breakout runs.

But good Australian backplay set up a good position for Australia and second row Richard Stanford bursts for the line from 20 metres to seal the match for Australia at 23 – 12.

The Irish, while disappointed, can take comfort from the fact that they overcame a poor start to give it a real shot and will return to Ireland with a great reputation. Under the able leadership of Barney McGonigle as Manager, they have left a favourable impression wherever they have been.

The after match function saw the presentations of the Barclay’s Awards for the Most Valuable Players to Billy Holland from Ireland and Saia Faingaa from Australia.

Australian Schools 23 (Saia Faingaa, Christian Lealiifano, Alec Bishop, Richard Stanford tries; Nicholas Woolf penalty)

Irish Schools 12 (Fionn Carr, Darren Cave tries; Robert Kearney conversion)

Irish Team:
15. Rob Kearney (Clongowes)
14. Fionn Carr (Newbridge)
13. Tom Gleeson (PBC)
12. Darren Cave (Sullivan)
11. Peter Shallow (Rockwell)
10. Conor Gildea (Terenure)
9. Duncan Williams (CBC Cork)
1. Gary Walsh (Blackrock)
2. Gavin O’Meara (St. Mary’s)
3. Gary Mitchell (RBAI)
4. Billy Holland (CBC Cork)
5. Devin Toner (Castleknock)
6. Michael Essex (CBC Cork)
7. Diarmuid Laffan (Captain) (Blackrock)
8. David Pollock (RS Dungannon)

Darragh Hurley (CBC Cork) for Walsh (49)
Sean Cronin (Ard Scoil Ris) for O’Meara (51)
Paul Collins (Templeogue) for Mitchell (51)
Jamie Cornett (RS Armagh)
Barry O’Mahoney (Crescent Comprehensive) for Essex (55)
Joe Burns (CAI)
Conan Doyle (Ard Scoil Ris) for Gildea (55)
Rory Drysdale (BRA)