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Fitzgerald Bags Brace As Ireland Under-20s Finish Seventh
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Fitzgerald Bags Brace As Ireland Under-20s Finish Seventh

Fitzgerald Bags Brace As Ireland Under-20s Finish Seventh

Two tries from Stephen Fitzgerald allowed the Ireland Under-20s to close out their World Rugby U-20 Championship campaign with a satisfying 17-9 win over Scotland and secure seventh place overall.



Nigel Carolan's youngsters fought hard for their second victory in three meetings with the Scots this season, as they bounced back from their recent defeats to New Zealand and Wales.

Today's play-off game in Viadana was an unattractive spectacle at times, dominated by kicking and some dogged forward play. However, when Ireland did have the chance to move the ball behind the scrum, they looked much the more competent of the two sides.

After a promising start in which they complemented driving forward play with good movement along the back-line, the Irish were put under pressure by Scotland's fierce tackling. And when Scotland scrum half Ben Vellacott took a quick tap penalty, he made a darting run before being hauled down seven metres from the Ireland line.

Full-back Blair Kinghorn mopped up with the simple penalty kick for 3-0 after Ireland were pined for not rolling away. Ireland hit back soon after as a fortunate bounce from a Joey Carbery chip kick gave winger Stephen Fitzgerald a simple run-in to the left corner. From the touchline, out-half Carbery continued his excellent goal-kicking form by adding the extras.

Scotland had a prime chance to score when winger Richard Galloway hit the inside channel after coming off his blindside wing – only for his pass to Vellacott to go slightly behind the scrum half with Ireland's line undefended.

Following a period of pressure, Sean Lineen's side did get their reward with a second penalty goal from Kinghorn. Ireland had been penalised for hands in the ruck.

The 18-year-old Scottish full-back sent a long range penalty attempt wide of the posts, and Carbery did likewise with a shot from a similar distance.

Unfortunately UCD clubman Carbery had to be assisted off the pitch after picking up an injury when he tackled Scotland number 8 Magnus Bradbury. Fergal Cleary came on in his place and almost simultaneously, prop Andrew Porter suffered a neck injury that prompted Liam O'Connor's introduction into the Irish front row.

Scotland's momentum provided further worries for Ireland as the Scots drove a lineout and then made a number of surges at the whitewash, but the Irish defence resisted enough to go into the break with a 7-6 lead.

Into the second period, Ireland's defence was again on alert when the lively Vellacot broke clear from a lineout to run 60 metres before being hunted down. From their recovery phase, Ireland won awarded a penalty for a Scotland offside, allowing centre Garry Ringrose to widen the margin to four points with his first success in front of the posts.

There was relief for Ireland when another long range kick at goal by Kinghorn went wide. However, Scotland's replacement scrum half George Horne was on target with a 69th minute place-kick to reduce the arrears and set up a grandstand finish.

Crucially, Ireland were quick to respond with a driving maul and when the ball was released, Cleary slipped an inside pass to Fitzgerald for the Munster talent to stretch out and claim his second try of the game.

Ringrose added the conversion from in front of the posts for the final points of the match as Carolan's charges deservedly took the spoils in very warm conditions.

TIME LINE: 6 minutes – Scotland penalty: Blair Kinghorn – 0-3; 9 mins – Ireland try: Stephen Fitzgerald – 5-3; conversion: Joey Carbery – 7-3; 24 mins – Scotland penalty: Blair Kinghorn – 7-6; 28 mins – Scotland penalty: missed by Blair Kinghorn – 7-6; 33 mins – Ireland penalty: missed by Joey Carbery – 7-6; Half-time – Ireland 7 Scotland 6; 50 mins – Ireland penalty: Garry Ringrose – 10-6; 53 mins – Scotland penalty: missed by Blair Kinghorn – 10-6; 69 mins – Scotland penalty: George Horne – 10-9; 72 mins – Ireland try: Stephen Fitzgerald – 15-9; conversion: Garry Ringrose – 17-9; Full-time – Ireland 17 Scotland 9

Referee: Shuhei Kubo (Japan)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Billy Dardis (UCD/Leinster); Stephen Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster), Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), Sam Arnold (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Jacob Stockdale (Queen's University Belfast/Ulster); Joey Carbery (UCD/Leinster), Charlie Rock (Old Belvedere/Leinster); Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster), Zack McCall (Queen's University Belfast/Ulster), Conan O'Donnell (Sligo/NUIG/Connacht), David O'Connor (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Alex Thompson (Queen's University Belfast/Ulster), Josh Murphy (UCD/Leinster) (capt), Rory Moloney (Buccaneers/Connacht), Lorcan Dow (Queen's University Belfast/Ulster).

Replacements used: Fergal Cleary (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Carbery (39 mins), Liam O'Connor (Cork Constitution/Munster) for Porter (40), Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster) for McCall, Stephen McVeigh (Buccaneers/Connacht) for Moloney (both 42), Oisin Heffernan (Terenure College/Leinster) for O'Donnell (59), Cian Romaine (Buccaneers/Connacht) for Thompson, Ciaran Gaffney (Galwegians/Connacht) for Arnold (both 65), Jack Cullen (Shannon/Munster) for Rock (67).

Away Team

Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh); Robbie Nairn (Harlequins), Alec Coombes (London Scottish), Patrick Kelly (Le Parc), Richard Galloway (University of Birmingham); Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints), Ben Vellacott (Gloucester/Hartpury College); Murray McCallum (Aberdeen Grammar), Sam James (Bedford Blues), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks), Ally Miller (Edinburgh/Watsonians), Neil Irvine-Hess (Melrose), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) (capt), Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh).

Replacements used: Dan Elkington (Watsonians) for McCallum (49 mins), George Horne (Glasgow Hawks) for Vellacott (56), Lewis Wynne (Stirling County) for Cummings (59), Ross Graham (Hawick) for James, Tom Galbraith (Melrose) for Kelly (both 64), Ruaridh Knott (Melrose) for Miller (67), Archie Russell (Stirling County) for Nairn (70), Jack Owlett (Exeter University) for Fagerson (75).

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Stephen Fitzgerald 2; Cons: Joey Carbery, Garry Ringrose; Pen: Garry Ringrose

Away Team

Pens: Blair Kinghorn 2, George Horne