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U-21: Irish Let Early Lead Slip

U-21: Irish Let Early Lead Slip

There was a sense of dij` vu in the Ireland Under-21 camp on Thursday as they let an early first half lead slip in their World Cup opener – losing 31-23 to France U-21.

There was a sense of dij` vu in the Ireland Under-21 camp on Thursday as they let an early first half lead slip in their World Cup opener – losing 31-23 to France U-21.

IRB Under-21 World Cup: Pool Stages: Thursday, June 9
Ireland U-21 21 France U-21 33, Chacras RC, Mendoza

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In the sides’ first clash this year in the Six Nations in Limerick, Mark McDermott’s Irish side stole into an early 6-0 lead. In Mendoza, Argentina, it was even better for the men-in-green.

A well-taken try by centre Andrew Trimble, converted by team captain and last year’s World Cup top scorer Gareth Steenson, and a first penalty from the boot of Dungannon fly-half Steenson saw McDermott’s charges go 10-0 up.

Yet two French tries in the space of five minutes saw that good work undone as Ireland’s defence went to sleep.

Number 8 Damien Chouly and elusive full-back Jean Baptiste Peyras both touched down for converted scores and a 14-10 half-time lead for Eric Lamarque’s French side.

With France maintaining the bulk of possession in the second half, Steenson and company were always up against it. They paid the price for some lacklustre defending as wing Maxime Medard and scrum-half Fabien Cibray blazed over for two further French tries.

A 69th-minute try from Corinthians’ front rower Joseph Merrigan raised Irish hopes in the closing quarter, but French replacement Thibault Lacroix had the final say with a try of his own in the final minutes.

Ireland coach McDermott said afterwards: “We’re disappointed because we lost to France in the Six Nations and we were desperate to beat them here. Things just didn’t work out for us in the backs or with our set-pieces.”

Steenson, one of only two players, the other being winger Paul McKenzie, back from last year’s runners-up finish in Scotland, added: “Matches against France are always physical and I think we competed well with them. We lost our concentration at a crucial time in the second half but we did keep battling right to the end.”

Next up for the young Irish is a Monday clash with Samoa, who lost 52-22 to England in their first outing and sit one place below Ireland (eighth) in the 12-team table.

Scoring Sequence:

3 minutes: Ireland penalty – Gareth Steenson – 3-0
27: Ireland try – Andrew Trimble – 8-0; conversion – Steenson – 10-0
35: France try – Damien Chouly – 10-5; con – Rigis Lespinas – 10-7
40: France try – Jean-Baptiste Peyras – 10-12; con: Lespinas – 10-14 (HT)
41: France try – Maxime Medard – 10-19
45: Ireland pen – Steenson – 13-19
50: France try – Fabien Cibray – 13-24; con – Lespinas – 13-26
56: Ireland pen – Steenseon – 16-26
69: Ireland try – Joseph Merrigan – 21-26; con – Steenson – 23-26
78: France try – Thibault Lacroix – 23-31 (FT)

Thursday’s Other Results:

New Zealand 60 Wales 15; Scotland 22 Australia 28; England 52 Samoa 22; Italy 3 South Africa 81; Argentina 65 Canada 7


(15) Ross McCarron (UCD)
(14) Paul Hurley (UCC)
(13) Andrew Trimble (Ballymena)
(12) Greg Stafford (Lansdowne)
(11) Paul McKenzie (Belfast Harlequins)
(10) Gareth Steenson (Dungannon) (Capt)
(9) Cillian Willis (UCD)
(1) Gary Maxwell (Dungannon)
(2) Stuart Philpott (Saracens)
(3) John Andress (Belfast Harlequins)
(4) Mark Melbourne (Garryowen)
(5) Ryan Caldwell (Dungannon)
(6) Kevin McLaughlin (UCD)
(7) Chris Henry (Malone)
(8) Stephen Ferris (Dungannon)


(16) Joseph Merrigan (Corinthians)
(17) Ronan Loughney (Galwegians)
(18) Ross Noonan (UCC)
(19) Trevor Richardson (Buccaneers)
(20) Gerry Hurley (Garryowen)
(21) Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College)
(22) Daniel Riordan (Corinthians)

Coach: Mark McDermott
Assistant Coach: Niall Malone
Manager: David Haslett

France U-21: Jean-Baptiste Peyras (Section Paloise); Florian Denos (Toulouse), Vincent Roux (AS Clermont Auvergne), Sylvain Mirande (SU Agen), Maxime Medard (Toulouse); Rigis Lespinas (CA Brive), Fabien Cibray (Section Paloise) (Capt); Pierre Lafond (US Montauban), Virgile Lacombe (Toulouse), Yohan Montes (Stade Frangais), Damien Fevre (SU Agen), Looc Jacquet (AS Clermont Auvergne), Marc Baget Rabarou (Biarritz Olympique), Fabien Alexandre (FC Grenoble), Damien Chouly (CA Brive).

Replacements: Fridiric Montagnat (CS Bourgoin-Jallieu), Alexandre Bastin (AS Clermont Auvergne), Aurilien Diotallevi (CS Bourgoin-Jallieu), Girald Gambetta (Lyon OU), Julien Tomas (RC Montpellier), Thibault Lacroix (Biarritz Olympique), Matthieu Bourret (USA Perpignan).

HT: Ireland U-21 10 France U-21 14; Attendance: 2,000
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Ireland U-21 Squad, World Cup Fixtures