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Ireland U-20s Battle Past Hosts For Back-To-Back Wins
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Ireland U-20s Battle Past Hosts For Back-To-Back Wins

Ireland U-20s Battle Past Hosts For Back-To-Back Wins

Conor Dean’s 73rd-minute penalty edged the Ireland Under-20s to a 24-18 win over hosts Georgia in a pulsating 9th-10th place play-off at the World Rugby U-20 Championship in Tbilisi.

A two-try burst at the start of the second half from Caelan Doris and captain Paul Boyle also proved crucial for Peter Malone's ninth-place finishers who ended a difficult but character-building tournament on a high thanks to back-to-back play-off victories.

Their injury jinx continued when Calvin Nash – Ireland's top try scorer in Georgia – was forced off in the sixth minute, and Guram Gogichashvili's try cancelled out an Alan Tynan effort for the Junior Lelos to lead 10-7 at half-time.

Although those scores from Doris and Boyle, who were both in talismanic form, saw Ireland assume control at 21-10, impish scrum half Gela Aprasidze scored a superb solo try and kicked a penalty to put Georgia back within three points. Yet it was out-half Dean who had the final say, drawing a penalty over before the reinforced Irish defence wore the home side into submission.

It was a helter-skelter start with Georgia launching a number of kick chases in the punishing mid-afternoon sun, but Ireland had the first scoring opportunity. Tynan's sixth-minute grubber kick was reached first by Nash, however the Munster-capped youngster was held up by his opposite number Davit Meskhi and injured himself in the process.

Georgia's scrum, which was dominant against Argentina, won an early penalty against the Irish eight, although loosehead Gogichashvili was clearly not driving straight – a consistent feature of their set piece. Mark Keane, Nash's replacement on the wing, got a chance to stretch his legs via some slick passing out to the left, the Instonians clubman then chasing his own kick to put Georgia back towards their 22.

Handling errors and turnovers blighted both sides' attacks, with a lengthy injury stoppage for centre Beka Gavashelishvili? culminating in him being stretchered off. It was difficult to build momentum but Ireland finally made the breakthrough at the midpoint of the half. David McCarthy, Ronan Kelleher and Boyle carried strongly off an Oisin Dowling-won lineout, and when play was transferred back to the left, full-back Tynan evaded the clutches of Levan Papidze to make it over in the corner.

Dean ignored the chorus of boos from the home crowd to fire over a terrific conversion from the touchline. The Junior Lelos responded five minutes later, a scrum penalty allowing the multi-talented Aprasidze to squeeze his kick just inside the left hand post for a 7-3 scoreline.

Michael Silvester had to react quickly to prevent a try after the otherwise impressive McCarthy was smashed in a midfield tackle, with Keane also covering back behind his try-line. Despite conceding a free-kick at the resulting scrum, the Georgians hit back with a fast-paced 11-phase attack which ended up with Gogichashvili crashing over by the posts from a short pass by Tedo Abzhandadze.

Aprasidze added the extras and the three-point gap remained in place up to the interval, Ireland having to defend for long spells but excellent maul defence from skipper Boyle and John Foley forced a crucial turnover with half-time in sight.

Georgia were thwarted on the resumption by good breakdown work from Fineen Wycherley and Boyle, and off a lineout on the hosts' 22, replacements Gavin Coombes and Jonny Stewart made an immediate impact. There was plenty of pace and power to the subsequent move, hooker Kelleher barging up close to the posts before Boyle's skip pass put number 8 Doris over just to the right of the posts.

Dean converted and also tagged on the extras to Boyle's try only five minutes later. The Gorey man timed his run to perfection, bursting onto a Stewart pass to score from five metres out. Silvester had led the attack, breaking a tackle and stretching Georgia on the right wing before Gavin Mullin and Dean also gained ground closer in.

Ireland were now dictating, using the kick chase to good effect off a 70% share of possession. However, Aprasidze, who could play at his third U-20 Championship next year, conjured up a wonder try from his own half to raise Georgian hopes again. He scampered through a gap and brilliantly stepped away from Silvester and Tynan, leaving them both on the ground, to run in a scintillating unconverted score.

The hosts, who are an exciting side with bright futures ahead of them, were suddenly enjoying a purple patch, using an overthrown lineout from Kelleher to pick holes in the Irish defence. Defending in his 22, Doris was caught offside playing the ball and Aprasidze slotted the straightforward penalty to close the gap to 21-18 on the hour mark.

After an overcooked kick from Tynan, Ireland regained territory with Coombes putting pressure on the Georgian lineout and the hungry Irish pack turning over the maul. A number of Georgian scrum infringements had been missed by the match officials, including 'boring in' and short binds, but Argentinian referee Pali de Luca finally pinged replacement loosehead Ushangi Tcheishvili for coming in at an angle having previously warned him. Dean mopped up with the three points and his kick proved to be the match-winning one.

Ireland initiated a well-executed maul from the restart, drawing a penalty near halfway, and they were able to pin Georgia back in their own half for the remainder, forcing a final handling error with captain Boyle booting the ball to touch to confirm a very hard-fought victory.

Boyle said afterwards: “Georgia have a really big, physical pack and a few backs who can play as well – their 9 and 10 are very strong ball players. So we just did our best to negate that by coming up hard and getting our detail right which I think we did today.

“We got over the gain-line a bit more too than we have been and we were allowed play ball. It was tough start (to the tournament) but we got it together in the end – a good win against Samoa and a good win there against Georgia – so we've delighted to finish off with a win.”

TIME LINE: 21 minutes – Ireland try: Alan Tynan – 0-5; conversion: Conor Dean – 0-7; 27 mins – Georgia penalty: Gela Aprasidze – 3-7; 31 mins – Georgia try: Guram Gogichashvili – 8-7; conversion: Gela Aprasidze – 10-7; Half-time – Georgia 10 Ireland 7; 44 mins – Ireland try: Caelan Doris – 10-12; conversion: Conor Dean – 10-14; 49 mins – Ireland try: Paul Boyle – 10-19; conversion: Conor Dean – 10-21; 54 mins – Georgia try: Gela Aprasidze – 15-21; conversion: missed by Tedo Abzhandadze – 15-21; 60 mins – Georgia penalty: Gela Aprasidze – 18-21; 73 mins – Ireland penalty: Conor Dean – 18-24; Full-time – Georgia 18 Ireland 24

Referee: Pali de Luca (Argentina)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Mirian Modebadze (AIA); Saba Svimonishvili (Sharks Academy), Bezhan Gavashelishvili (Lelo Saracens), Giorgi Kveseladze (Lelo Saracens), Davit Meskhi (RC Armia); Tedo Abzhandadze (AIA), Gela Aprasidze (Lelo Saracens); Guram Gogichashvili (Locomotive), Levan Papidze (Lelo Saracens), Guram Papidze (Lyon), Lasha Jaiani (Exeter University), Koba Jimsheleishvili (Armazi), Beka Saghinadze (Lelo Saracens), Ilia Spanderashvili (RC Armia) (capt), Arsen Machaladze (AIA).

Replacements used: Giorgi Tsiklauri (RC Jiki) for Gavashelishvili (15 mins), Ushangi Tcheishvili (Montpellier) for Gogichashvili, Lasha Tabidze (Bordeaux-Begles) for G Papidze, Tornike Jalagonia (RC Jiki) for Jaiani (all 50), Levan Tchavtchavadze (RC Armia) for L Papidze (71), Sandro Mamamtavrishvili (RC TBS University) for Spanderashvili (74). Not used: Luka Dvalishvili (RC Armazi), Beka Mamukashvili (Lelo Saracens).

Away Team

Alan Tynan (Young Munster/Munster); Michael Silvester (Dublin University/Leinster), Gavin Mullin (UCD/Leinster), David McCarthy (Garryowen/Munster), Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster); Conor Dean (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Jack Stafford (Shannon/Munster); Jordan Duggan (Naas/Leinster), Ronan Kelleher (UCD/Leinster), Charlie Connolly (Dublin University/Leinster), Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster), Oisin Dowling (Lansdowne/Leinster), John Foley (Shannon/Munster), Paul Boyle (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt), Caelan Doris (St. Mary's College/Leinster).

Replacements used: Mark Keane (Instonians/Ulster) for Nash (6 mins), Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster) for Foley, Jonny Stewart (Queen's University/Ulster) for Stafford (both 44), Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster) for Mullin (56), Joey Conway (UL Bohemians/Munster) for Duggan, Greg McGrath (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Connolly, Jack Regan (UCD/Leinster) for Wycherley (all 60). Not used: Adam Moloney (Shannon/Munster).

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Guram Gogichashvili, Gela Aprasidze; Con: Gela Aprasidze; Pens: Gela Aprasidze 2

Away Team

Tries: Alan Tynan, Caelan Doris, Paul Boyle; Cons: Conor Dean 3; Pen: Conor Dean