The Ireland Under-20s endured a frustrating end to their IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship campaign in Japan as they fell to a 9-3 defeat to Samoa in the 7th-8th place play-off in Fukuoka.
2009 IRB TOSHIBA JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: Sunday, June 21
IRELAND UNDER-20s 3 SAMOA UNDER-20s 9, Level 5 Stadium, Fukuoka
Scorers: Ireland: Pen: Ian McKinley
Samoa: Pens: Ioane Sefo, Ivy Leleisiuao, Rayhan Laulala
Allen Clarke’s Ireland side suffered their second successive defeat at the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship, as Samoa edged them out for seventh overall in a low-scoring play-off clash.
There was only one score in the second half – replacement Rayhan Laulala becoming the third different player to kick a penalty for Samoa in the 68th minute – and with only a six-point advantage they would endure a nervous end to the match.
Samoa did have the opportunity to make certain of victory four minutes from time when they worked an overlap, but the final pass went forward.
Ireland, captained by out-half Ian McKinley, threw everything they had at Samoa in search of the match-winning try, but to no avail.
Clarke’s charges had earlier been the first to settle and they took a fourth minute lead courtesy of a well-struck McKinley penalty.
But then this powerful Samoan outfit began to dominate for long periods of the first half in terms of possession, even if much of it was only just inside the Irish half.
Samoan out-half Ioane Sefo missed with his first kick at goal in the seventh minute, but with Ireland’s tight defence containing the islanders’ good passing and Sevens-inspired ingenuity it was perhaps inevitable that points would be hard to come by.
McKinley missed a penalty in the 21st minute, but with half backs Auvasa Falealii and Sefo a constant threat to the Irish defensive line it was the Samoans who scored next, squaring things up with a penalty by Sefo.
Sefo missed another penalty attempt, but Samoa did go in at the break with a slender 6-3 lead in the hot and humid conditions after full-back Ivy Lelesiuao slotted his penalty through the posts in the 37th minute.
The words of the coaching staff at half-time clearly had the desired effect as the Irish youngsters came out and dominated the first 10 to 15 minutes of the second half, with lock Joe Moran, replacement scrum half Conor Murray and inside centre Eamonn Sheridan particularly impressive.
However, the decision to kick for touch on two occasions proved costly with errors preventing them turning good field position into points.
The rest of the match was more even, neither side able to turn attacking opportunities points and leaving the final score 9-3.
Even in defeat, though, Ireland have improved their final position by one place, having finished ninth in the inaugural Junior World Championship last year.
TIME LINE: 4 minutes – Ireland penalty: Ian McKinley – 3-0; 7 mins – Samoa penalty: missed by Ioane Sefo – 3-0; 21 mins – Ireland penalty: missed by Ian McKinley – 3-0; 26 mins – Samoa penalty: Ioane Sefo – 3-3; 33 mins – Samoa penalty: missed by Ioane Sefo – 3-3; 37 mins – Samoa penalty: Ivy Leleisiuao – 3-6; Half-time – Ireland 3 Samoa 6; 68 mins – Samoa penalty: Rayhan Laulala – 3-9; Full-time – Ireland 3 Samoa 9
IRELAND U-20: David Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster); Ronan O’Mahony (Garryowen/Munster), Danny Barnes (UCC/Munster), Eamonn Sheridan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Michael Keating (Clontarf/Leinster); Ian McKinley (UCD/Leinster) (capt), Matthew Healy (Lansdowne/Leinster); Jack McGrath (St.Mary’s College/Leinster), Thomas Sexton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Adam Macklin (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Joe Moran (Galwegians/Connacht), Mark Flanagan (UCD/Leinster), David O’Callaghan (UCC/Munster), Dominic Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Rhys Ruddock (Millfield School/Exiles).
Replacements used: Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) for Healy (half-time), Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster) for Barnes (52 mins), Paddy McAllister (Ballynahinch/Ulster) for Macklin (58), Brian Hayes (CBC/Munster) for Moran (69), David McGregor (Ballynahinch/Ulster) for Sexton (72), Shane Gahan (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Sheridan (73). Not used: Jack O’Connell (Lansdowne/Leinster).
SAMOA U-20: Ivy Leleisiuao; Taupo Sefo, Leia Saofaiga, Iafeta Laau, Tito Sufia; Ioane Sefo, Auvasa Falealii; Siaosi Otto Iona (capt), Steven Savali, Uini Atonio, Vailele Tauloa, Faatiga Lemalu, Mark Faasii, Talalelei Moli, Tau Mataafa.
Replacements used: Winston Wilson for I Sefo (51 mins), Falemiga Selesele for Mataafa (53), Rayhan Laulala for Leleisiuao (58), Lole Tualaulelei for Laau (69), Viliamu Afatia for Atonio (70), Pao Muaau for Savali, Ray Pese for Lemalu (both 78).
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)