Ospreys starlet Matthew Jarvis was deadly accurate with the boot as the Ireland Under-18 Schools team fell to a 25-6 defeat in their opening game of the 2008 U-18 Six Nations Festival at Musgrave Park on Wednesday night.
2008 UNDER-18 SIX NATIONS FESTIVAL: Wednesday, March 26
IRELAND U-18 SCHOOLS XV 6 WALES U-18 25, Musgrave Park (Att: 2,500)
Scorers: Ireland: Pens: Noel Reid 2
Wales: Try: Rhys Downes; Con: Matthew Jarvis; Pens: Matthew Jarvis 6
2,500 spectators packed into the Cork venue as a strong opening half performance by a determined Welsh side ensured that they made a positive start to the Six Nations Festival.
Out-half Matthew Jarvis was simply sublime, kicking six penalties and one conversion from seven kicks. Welsh coach Simon King could afford to substitute the talented player as the game entered the final quarter.
This Celtic clash saw just one try, with Wales scrum half Rhys Downes crossing the home whitewash after 16 minutes.
Ireland played second fiddle and trailed by 16-6 at the interval with St. Michael’s College student Noel Reid sending over two penalty kicks.
Ireland’s frustrations had already set in midway through the half, when the game spilled over with 13 players from both teams getting involved in a fracas.
However, when referee Rowan Kitt took a handle on matters, both sides settled and played good rugby for the remainder of the game.
Peter Melia’s Ireland side were forced to defend for much of the second half as the Welsh piled on their pressure, and when Ireland captain Brian O’Hara was sin-binned, it further compounded the hosts’ woes.
The PBC Cork flanker was shown yellow just eight minutes into second half, with Jarvis sending over his seventh place-kick as O’Hara re-entered the game and Wales opened up a 19-point gap.
The Irish failed to command much possession in the second half and this certainly reflected on the scoreboard, as they could not add to Reid’s brace of penalties.
Although they were gifted a late chance, deep into injury-time, when full-back Reid spilled the ball out wide following a good attacking move.
Ballymena Academy out-half Luke Marshall and Castletroy’s Diarmaid McCarthy were among the Irish players who kept their heads in the second half and put in strong performances.
But Ireland were always up against it with this physically stronger Welsh side capitalising on any breaks the hosts allowed them.
IRELAND U-18 SCHOOLS: Noel Reid (St. Michael’s College); Craig O’Hanlon (St. Munchin’s College), Michael Allen (Methodist College Belfast), Diarmaid McCarthy (Castletroy Community College), Mark Atkinson (Grosvenor Grammar School); Luke Marshall (Ballymena Academy), David O’Driscoll (Presentation Brothers College Cork); Denis Buckley (Blackrock College), Niall Annett (Methodist College Belfast), Jack O’Connell (Clongowes Wood College), Brian Hayes (Christian Brothers College Cork), Ben Marshall (St. Andrew’s College), Dominic Ryan (Gonzaga College), Brian O’Hara (Presentation Brothers College Cork) (capt), David O’Callaghan (Midleton College)
Replacements used: Risteard Byrne (Terenure College) for Annett, Martin Moore (Castleknock College) for Buckley (both 40 mins), Jason Bloomfield (Coleraine Academical Institution) for O’Driscoll (58), Brian Cagney (Presentation Brothers College Cork) for O’Connell, Patrick Butler (Rockwell College) for B Marshall (both 60), Michael Kelleher (St. Munchin’s College) for O’Hanlon (68), Richard Bent (St. Mary’s College) for Ryan, James McKinney (Campbell College) for L Marshall (both 69), Gavin Nugent (Presentation Brothers College Cork) for Reid (70). Not used: David McSharry (Templeogue College), Paul Pritchard (Ballymena Academy).
WALES U-18: James Loxton (Blues); Adam Hughes (Dragons), Ben John (Ospreys), Ashley Beck (Ospreys), Ieuan Coombes (Dragons); Matthew Jarvis (Ospreys), Rhys Downes (Blues); Daniel Watchurst (Dragons), Rhys Williams (Blues) (capt), Stewart Maguire (Dragons), Tom Crandon (Dragons), Joel Galley (Scarlets), Dave Francis (Dragons), Rhys Jenkins (Dragons), James Thomas (Dragons).
Replacements used: James King (Scarlets) for Galley (23 mins), Lloyd Peers (Ospreys) for Crandon (58), Chris Lewis-Pratt (Exiles) for Jarvis, Liam Powell (Dragons) for Coombes, Morgan Allen (Dragons) for Francis (all 65), Gareth Jenkins (Ospreys) for Watchurst, James Davies (Scarlets) for R Jenkins (both 68), Ceri Davies (Ospreys) for Williams (69). Not used: Gareth Davies (Scarlets).
Referee: Rowan Kitt (England)