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Battling Irish Denied By Young Dragons

Battling Irish Denied By Young Dragons

Despite a late converted try by full-back Fionn Carr, the Ireland Under-21s ended up on the losing side in Friday night’s 6 Nations tussle with Wales U-21 at Dubarry Park.

…Ireland full-back Fionn Carr gets past Rhys Gill of Wales…

Despite a late converted try by full-back Fionn Carr, the Ireland Under-21s ended up on the losing side in Friday’s 6 Nations tussle with Wales U-21 at Dubarry Park.

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UNDER-21 6 NATIONS: Friday, February 24

IRELAND U-21 13 WALES U-21 14, Dubarry Park

Scorers: Ireland: Try: Fionn Carr; Con: Jonathan Sexton; Pens: Conan Doyle 2

Wales: Tries: Alun Wyn Jones, James Hook; Cons: Hook 2

James Hook was once more the pivotal man for Wales Under-21s as his 80th-minute try ensured his side’s second successive win of the U-21 6 Nations championship.

Fresh from kicking 14 points and setting up all four of Wales’ tries in their defeat of Scotland last time out, Neath fly half Hook slalomed over to strike the defining blow in this one-point win over Ireland.

Still, Chris Davey’s Dragons were given a right scare by the battling Irish, who broke loose in the fourth minute of injury-time to score their only try. Replacement Jonathan Sexton converted full-back Fionn Carr’s score, but it was the last act of a titanic struggle at a packed Dubarry Park.

The Irish endured a nightmare start when French referee Jean-Pierre Mathieu sent lock Daniel Tuohy to the sin-bin for a ruck stamp after only three minutes.

The hosts regrouped however, and went in front on 11 minutes when fly half Conan Doyle was successful with his second penalty shot at the posts – this time from the right side.

Intense Welsh pressure followed as the visitors took a stranglehold on possession and their speedy wide men – Chris Czekaj and Darren Daniel – came into their own. Their pack was also making the Irish struggle at scrum-time, but some notable tackles from UCD teenager Sean O’Brien and Irish captain Stuart Philpott helped the home defence hold firm.

Hook drew a drop goal attempt wide on 23 minutes before his sweet midfield pick-up and pass sent Daniel haring down the right touchline. Carr however, held firm when one-on-one.

But, just five minutes later, a lineout take and maul saw Welsh lock Alun Wyn Jones muscle over for a try. Hook converted from out on the right for a 7-3 lead.

Wales then ended the half down to 13 men when Mathieu binned lock Dominic Day and prop Phil Osborne in quick succession for ruck offences at the end of the first half.

Doyle converted the resultant penalty for Day’s misdemeanour – reducing the gap to one, but the Garryowen clubman’s injury-time effort, after Osborne had walked, crucially struck a post.

The score remained at 7-6, with both defences water-tight, right until the death. Mark McDermott’s Irish side could not make use of their two-man advantage early in the second half, and Wales, Grand Slam champions at this age grade last year, played wisely with the backing of the Athlone wind.

Both centres Darren Cave, at just 18, and Fergus McFadden carried well for Ireland, half-backs Paul Marshall and Doyle varied up the home attack, but territorially, Wales were dominant. Hook, who shaved a 76th-minute penalty attempt off the post, motioned for replacement scrum half Liam Davies to swing play out to the left wing and Wales had enough numbers, with flanker Rhys Shellard showing great hands, to break for the line and score.

Fittingly, Belfast Harlequins starlet Cave, who again emerged with much credit – just as he did against Italy, darted up the other end to send Carr crashing over, but it was too little, too late for the vanquished hosts.

Friday also saw France U-21 run in eight tries to beat their Italian counterparts 51-5 in Alencon. The England Under-21s managed to score six touch downs at the Falkirk Stadium in their 49-22 defeat of Scotland. The Scots are Ireland’s next opponents at Dubarry Park on March 10.

TIME LINE: 3 minutes – Ireland yellow card: Daniel Tuohy (stamping); 11 mins – Ireland penalty: Conan Doyle – 3-0; 28 mins – Wales try: Alun Wyn Jones – 3-5; conversion: James Hook – 3-7; 38 mins – Wales yellow card: Dominic Day (ruck offence); Ireland penalty: Conan Doyle – 6-7; 40(+1) mins – Wales yellow card: Phil Osborne (ruck offence); Half-time – Ireland 6 Wales 7; 80 mins – Wales try: James Hook – 6-12; conversion: James Hook – 6-14; 80(+4) mins – Ireland try: Fionn Carr – 11-14; conversion: Jonathan Sexton – 13-14; Full-time – Ireland 13 Wales 14

IRELAND U-21: Fionn Carr; Peter Durcan, Darren Cave, Fergus McFadden, Tom Gleeson; Conan Doyle, Paul Marshall; Callum Black, Stuart Philpott (capt), Paul Doran-Jones, Devin Toner, Daniel Touhy, Michael Essex, Ejike Uzoigwe, Sean O’Brien.

Replacements used: Duncan Williams for Marshall (62 mins), Michael Diffley for Black, Billy Holland for Essex (both 67 mins), Jonathan Sexton for McFadden (74). Not used: Sean Cronin, David McGowan, Dale Black.

WALES U-21: Jamie Roberts; Darren Daniel, Andrew Bishop, Tom Riley, Chris Czekaj; James Hook, Martin Roberts; Rhys Gill, Duane Goodfield, Phil Osborne, Alun Wyn Jones, Dominic Day, Craig Everett, Rhys Shellard, Tom Smith (capt).

Replacements used: Ian Jones for Shellard (43-49 mins), Ben Lewis for Everett (54), Liam Davies for M Roberts (61), Dafydd Hewitt for Riley (65), Will Jones for Day (71), Ian Jones for Gill (74), Ed Shevington for Goodfield, Aled Thomas for J Roberts (both (78).

Sin Bin: Tuohy (Ireland) (3 mins), Day (Wales) (38), Osborne (Wales) (40+1)

Referee: Jean-Pierre Matheu (France)