The Ireland Under-20s, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, saw off a spirited Tongan effort to get their first win at the IRB Junior World Championship in this free-flowing and entertaining game at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.
2008 IRB JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – POOL A: Saturday, June 14
IRELAND UNDER-20s 45 TONGA UNDER-20s 27, Cardiff Arms Park
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Chris Cochrane 2, Niall Morris 2, Stephen Archer; Cons: Ian Porter 4; Pens: Ian Porter 4
Tonga: Tries: Mateo Malupo, Salesi Sete; Con: Sione Toke; Pens: Sione Toke 5
Both teams were desperate to get their first win of the competition having lost their two earlier pool games, and though Tonga dominated the first half, Ireland’s strong second half showing was enough to give Eric Elwood’s team a first taste of victory in Wales.
Tonga started brightly and took advantage of some early Irish hesitancy and out-half Sione Toke was successful with two final penalties.
Ireland were starved of possession and got lucky when Tonga threw a loose pass which winger Chris Cochrane intercepted to race the length of the pitch and score.
It was harsh on Tonga who had just seen full-back Mateo Malupo make a stunning break through the heart of the Irish defence in the build-up.
Both sides showed ambition on the attack as the half wore on, but it was Ireland who got the next score when Ian Porter put over another kick.
Tonga hit right back with an impressive display of offloading and slick handling and Malupo, who had already made a number of superb breaks, was on hand to run in a try.
Toke missed the conversion but made amends with two perfect penalties just before the interval to see Tonga lead 17-10 at the turnaround.
Porter then kicked two terrific long range penalties at the start of the second half to bring his side right back into it and though Toke replied for Tonga with a strike of his own, it was the Irish who were beginning to control the game.
Full-back Niall Morris used his pace and strength to burst through the defence minutes later and it got better for Ireland when Cochrane grabbed his brace shortly after as Elwood’s youngsters made the most of a Tongan mistake close to their try line.
Another penalty from man-of-the-match Porter and a try from replacement prop Stephen Archer put a gloss on the score-line for Ireland as Tonga got a consolation try in injury-time through Salesi Sete.
Speaking afterwards, Porter said: “We were a bit disappointed with our first half performance but in the second half we just came out all guns blazing and we really picked it up.
“The forwards put in some great hits and started to knock the Tongans back and once we started to get quick front foot ball, we were able to push on from that moment.”
TIME LINE: 5 minutes – Tonga penalty: Sione Toke – 0-3; 9 mins – Tonga penalty; Sione Toke – 0-6; 14 mins – Ireland try: Chris Cochrane – 5-6; conversion: Ian Porter – 7-6; 29 mins – Ireland penalty: Ian Porter – 10-6; 34 mins – Tonga try: Mateo Malupa – 10-11; conversion: missed by Sione Toke – 10-11; 37 mins – Tonga penalty: Sione Toke – 10-14; 40+1 mins – Tonga penalty: Sione Toke – 10-17; Half-time – Ireland 10 Tonga 17; 42 mins – Ireland penalty: Ian Porter – 13-17; 45 mins – Ireland penalty: Ian Porter – 16-17; 47 mins – Tonga penalty: Sione Toke – 16-20; 53 mins – Ireland try: Niall Morris – 21-20; conversion: Ian Porter – 23-20; 56 mins – Ireland try: Chris Cochrane – 28-20; conversion: Ian Porter – 30-20; 61 mins – Ireland try: Niall Morris – 35-20; conversion: missed by Ian Porter – 35-20; 73 mins – Ireland penalty: Ian Porter – 38-20; 79 mins – Ireland try: Stephen Archer – 43-20; conversion: Ian Porter – 45-20; 80+3 mins – Tonga try: Salesi Sete – 45-25; conversion: Sione Toke – 45-27; Full-time – Ireland 45 Tonga 27
IRELAND UNDER-20: Niall Morris (Blackrock College/Leinster); David Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster), Eoin O’Malley (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Conor Cleary (Greystones/Leinster), Chris Cochrane (Queen’s University/Ulster); Martin Dufficy (Dublin University/Leinster), Ian Porter (Queen’s University/Ulster); Paul Karayiannis (Queen’s University/Ulster), Jason Harris-Wright (Greystones/Leinster), Ben Barclay (UCD/Leinster), Ian Nagle (UCC/Munster), Eoin Sheriff (Lansdowne/Leinster), Kieran Essex (UL Bohemians/Munster), Paul Ryan (Blackrock College/Leinster) (capt), Patrick Mallon (Lansdowne/Leinster).
Replacements used: Michael Entwistle (Ballymena/Ulster) for Ryan (48-50 mins, blood sub), Stephen Archer (UCC/Munster) for Karayiannis, James Sandford (Queen’s University/Ulster) for Sheriff (both 66), Stephen Douglas (Ballymena/Ulster) for Harris-Wright (73), Entwistle for Essex (75), Eamonn Sheridan (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Cleary (77). Not used: David Moore (Blackrock College/Leinster), Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster).
TONGA UNDER-20: Mateo Malupo; Salesi Sete, William Takai, Mahe Fangupo, Samiuela Atiola; Sione Toke, Sekope Maea; Mosa’ati Afu, Lepaola Taueli, Maleko Latu, Tevita Tangi, Finau Tupa, Haloti Molitika, Inoke Taufa, Constantin Kauvaka (capt).
Replacements used: Sotele Hehea for Tangi (51 mins), Tone Tukufuka for Taueli, Paula Kata for Molitika (both 64), Alfred Hausia for Atiola (69), Charles Mateo for Takai (71), Samiuela Vea for Taufa (75), Tevita Moliteka for Afu (77).
Referee: Philip Bosch (South Africa)