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Ireland U-20s’ Fightback Falls Short Against Wales
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Ireland U-20s’ Fightback Falls Short Against Wales

Ireland U-20s’ Fightback Falls Short Against Wales

The Ireland Under-20s were made to pay for a sloppy start as they lost 22-12 to Wales in tonight’s 5th-8th place play-off at the World Rugby U-20 Championship.


Tries from Dafydd Howells, Seb Davies and Joshua Adams had the Welsh 19-0 up in as many minutes in Viadana, with a Jarrod Evans penalty extending their lead before the break.

Ireland closed the gap with an early second half try from full-back Ciaran Gaffney, converted by Joey Carbery, and scrum half Charlie Rock sniped over with eight minutes remaining.

However, it was a case of too little, too late for Nigel Carolan's charges who will close out the tournament by playing Scotland in Saturday's 7th-8th place play-off at the same venue – Stadio Luigi Zaffanella (kick-off 1pm local time/12pm Irish time).

The omens were not good for Ireland when the Welsh scored from their very first attack, the white-shirted defence allowing advancing full-back Howells enough room to go over in the right corner after three minutes.

Out-half Evans missed the conversion but he added the extras to a well-taken ninth-minute score from Davies, who was put through by good hands from forward colleague Harrison Keddie on an overlap near the left touchline.

Ireland did have some scoring opportunities in the early stages, however Connacht prospect Gaffney was stopped just short of the try-line by Howells and out-half Carbery was off target with a 14th minute penalty attempt from the right wing.

While knock-ons and set piece issues spoiled some promising Irish approach work, Wales seemed in red hot form. They could have been penalised for obstruction on Ireland captain Josh Murphy, but played continued and left winger Adams crossed for try number three towards the end of the first quarter, with Evans again converting.

Frustratingly, Ireland failed to score while Welsh flanker Tom Phillips was in the sin-bin and after he returned, a penalty from Evans kept the scoreboard ticking over for the young Dragons at 22-0.

The Irish coaches' half-time words had the desired effect as the second half was only three minutes' old when Gaffney touched down. Centre Sam Arnold created the opening with a fine break from deep, Nick Timoney then carried strongly and a quick recycle saw Garry Ringrose put the Galwegians clubman over in the right corner. Carbery fired over a terrific conversion to give his team-mates a further boost.

Ireland did show their battling qualities by making it a much more even contest over the closing 40 minutes, with Andrew Porter, David O'Connor and first-time skipper Murphy standing out in terms of work-rate up front. The Irish bench also had an impact and further Welsh indiscipline saw their skipper Ollie Griffiths yellow carded for a high tackle on Carbery entering the final quarter.

The scoreline was unchanged until a close range try from the energetic Rock, who reacted quickly to dot down on his first U-20 start. He pounced on a loose ball after Ireland, who were now territorially dominant, had exerted pressure on a Welsh scrum.

Carbery was unable to convert this time, leaving 10 points between the sides, and time ran out on Ireland as Wales did the double on them, adding to their 19-12 win from this year's U-20 Six Nations.

Despite the defeat, Ireland will take some positives forward into the Scottish game. Most notably, they scored two good tries in an improved second half display and prevented Wales from adding to their points tally.

Referee: Will Houston (Australia)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Ciaran Gaffney (Galwegians/Connacht); 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), Sean McNulty (UCD/Leinster), Oisin Heffernan (Terenure College/Leinster), David O'Connor (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Alex Thompson (Queen's University Belfast/Ulster), Josh Murphy (UCD/Leinster) (capt), Conor Oliver (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Nick Timoney (St. Mary's College/Leinster).

Replacements: Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster), Liam O'Connor (Cork Constitution/Munster), Conan O'Donnell (Sligo/NUIG/Connacht), Lorcan Dow (Queen's University Belfast/Ulster), Rory Moloney (Buccaneers/Connacht), Tomás Quinlan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Fergal Cleary (Lansdowne/Leinster), Jack Owens (Queen's University Belfast/Ulster).

Away Team

Dafydd Howells (Ospreys/Neath); Elis-Wyn Benham (Blues/Cardiff), Garyn Smith (Blues/Pontypridd), Owen Watkin (Ospreys/Bridgend), Joshua Adams (Scarlets/Llanelli); Jarrod Evans (Blues/Pontypridd), Tomos Williams (Blues/Pontypridd); Luke Garrett (Dragons/Cross Keys), Liam Belcher (Blues/Pontypridd), Dillon Lewis (Blues/Pontypridd), Seb Davies (Blues/Pontypridd), Adam Beard (Ospreys/Aberavon), Tom Phillips (Scarlets/Llanelli), Ollie Griffiths (Dragons/Newport) (capt), Harrison Keddie (Dragons/Ebbw Vale).

Replacements: Torin Myhill (Scarlets/Llanelli), Keagan Bale (Dragons/Cross Keys), Joe Jones (Blues/Cardiff), Lee Taylor (Carmarthen Quins), Ryan Elias (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Kieran Hardy (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Daniel Jones (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Joe Thomas (Ospreys/Swansea).

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Ciaran Gaffney, Charlie Rock; Con: Joey Carbery

Away Team

Tries: Dafydd Howells, Seb Davies, Joshua Adams; Cons: Jarrod Evans 2; Pen: Jarrod Evans