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Four-Try Win Sets Ireland Under-20s On Their Way

Four-Try Win Sets Ireland Under-20s On Their Way

Man-of-the-match Jack O’Donoghue touched down twice as the Ireland Under-20s powered past Scotland in their opening Six Nations match at a rain-soaked Dubarry Park.

The young Ireland side's greater control of possession and patient build-up play in difficult weather conditions helped them establish a match-winning lead by the interval.

Strong-carrying number 8 Jack O'Donoghue and back row colleague Peadar Timmins muscled over for tries from close range.

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Timmins' score on the stroke of half-time was converted by Ross Byrne for a 20-0 advantage, with the out-half having landed two settling penalties after 6 and 15 minutes.

Byrne landed six kicks from seven attempts for an excellent 14-point return in the near constant rain in Athlone.

Further tries from O'Donoghue and replacement prop Oisin Heffernan put Mike Ruddock's charges out of sight, before Scotland had a late consolation effort from Ben Vellacott.

The rain began to fall during an initial bout of kicking tennis just after kick-off, with an early lineout poach allowing Ross Byrne to kick Ireland close to the Scottish 22.

Full-back David Busby made a solid start to his impressive 69-minute display, kicking well and taking a difficult high ball, and Ireland's aggressive breakdown work swiftly earned a first shot at the posts for out-half Byrne.

The UCD clubman lofted over a fine kick over from just inside the Scottish half, and a second loose lineout from the visitors spoiled a good opportunity to respond.

Byrne failed to draw in a kickable penalty from the right for his only miss of the night, but he was on target on the quarter hour mark after Scottish loosehead James Malcolm was penalised for a binding offence.

Scotland's pack responded with a strong maul – a reliable asset for them throughout the game – and after a second such drive, number 8 Buchan Richardson was stopped just short of the try-line.

A subsequent right-sided penalty was knocked wide by Ben Chalmers before Scotland pressed again, Peter Dooley having to retrieve a loose ball after Byrne was charged down by Neil Herron.

Both sides had to cope with worsening conditions in the second quarter as the rain pelted down, Ireland – with the wind gathering behind them – being thwarted by a couple of knock-ons in advanced positions.

But the forwards laid the platform for the opening try in the 29th minute, winning a scrum against the head and driving up close through a promising set of carries.

Sean O'Brien and O'Donoghue were both prominent as the home side got into scoring range in the 22, and the latter picked from a ruck, stepped out of a tackle and stretched over to the left of the posts.

The conversion was added by Byrne and Ireland added a second seven-pointer in the first minute of injury-time, their potent scrum earning them a late chance to attack and the number 10 offloaded for Timmins to finish smartly as he twisted out of a double tackle.

O'Donoghue and Max Abbott spearheaded an early assault from Ireland when the second half got underway, and the former continuing to get over the gain-line with regularity.

There were plenty of spills in the showery conditions and the ball was just lost forward as Ireland, through front rowers Dooley and Abbott, tried to finish off after a well-controlled 14 phases of possession.

Scotland managed to turn things around in the scrum, aided by the impact of their bench, but Ireland registered try number three on the hour mark.

O'Donoghue was the man to score, taking a quick tap and plunging over despite some last-ditch tackling from the Scots. Byrne's successful conversion widened the margin to 27 points.

O'Donoghue injured himself in the act of scoring and had to be replaced, and Ruddock unloaded his bench entering the final quarter as a number of players made their debuts at this level.

The game grew scrappier on the soggy pitch. Ireland always looked the more likely of the sides to score as centre Peter Robb drove them forward with a number of blockbusting carries.

To their credit, Scotland stuck to their task and improved on the back of strong scrummaging and a better share of possession and territory.

Ian Fitzpatrick hurtled into Ruaridh Young to dislodge the ball though and launch a cracking counter attack that was led to Heffernan's try, the Lansdowne clubman powering over just to the right of the posts with support from O'Brien and Shane Delahunt.

Byrne added the extras to complete the Irish scoring, although tireless captain Dan Leavy did threaten to create a fifth try following a late break from deep.

Scotland actually had the final say as the nippy Vellacott made use of a quick turnover to chip through and finish neatly, with fellow replacement Ben Cooper converting.

TIME LINE: 6 minutes – Ireland penalty: Ross Byrne – 3-0; 11 mins – Ireland penalty: missed by Ross Byrne – 11-0; 15 mins – Ireland penalty: Ross Byrne – 6-0; 20 mins – Scotland penalty: missed by Ben Chalmers – 6-0; 29 mins – Ireland try: Jack O'Donoghue – 11-0; conversion: Ross Byrne – 13-0; 40+1 mins – Ireland try: Peadar Timmins – 18-0; conversion: Ross Byrne – 20-0; Half-time – Ireland 20 Scotland 0; 58 mins – Ireland try: Jack O'Donoghue – 25-0; conversion: Ross Byrne – 27-0; 68 mins – Ireland try: Oisin Heffernan – 32-0; conversion: Ross Byrne – 34-0; 80+1 mins – Scotland try: Ben Vellacott – 34-5; conversion: Ben Cooper – 34-7; Full-time – Ireland 34 Scotland 7

Referee: Claudio Blessano (Italy)