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Ireland Under-20s Edged Out By Hosts France

Ireland Under-20s Edged Out By Hosts France

The Ireland Under-20s fell to their second successive defeat at the IRB Junior World Championship as host nation France clung on for a 9-8 play-off victory in La Roche-sur-Yon.



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Ireland scored the only try of this tight contest – a pushover effort from number 8 Ryan Murphy – but three penalties from scrum half Baptiste Serin were enough for les Bleuets to book their place in this weekend's 5th-6th place play-off against Argentina.

Mike Ruddock's Ireland side will compete with Australia for a seventh place finish. Sunday's play-off clash at Stade Henri Desgrange (kick-off 3pm local time/2pm Irish time) will see the Irish looking to repeat their win over the Junior Wallabies from the opening night of the tournament.

It was a difficult first half for the Irish against France, the first minute sin-binning of winger Darren Sweetnam leading to Serin's first successful shot at the posts.

Sweetnam, making his second start of the Championship on the right wing, saw yellow for an awkward challenge on French centre Francois Bouvier and Serin landed a confidence-boosting kick from the left wing.

Centre Scannell missed an opportunity to reply from a 13th minute penalty in wet conditions, and injuries led to changes in the front row with props Christopher Taylor and Peter Dooley, who required a stretcher, both being replaced.

But with Adam Boland and Edward Byrne slotting in quickly, Ruddock's charges used their ever reliable scrum as the platform for their try.

Sweetnam did well to collect a cross-field kick from Steve Crosbie in the build-up and the ensuing five-metre scrum saw the French shunted backwards over their try-line as Murphy picked up an unconverted score.

Despite Ireland winning the collisions and often forcing the issue up front, it was the French who showed a clinical edge with Serin converting important penalties either side of half-time – both from the 30-metre range and in front of the posts.

Sean McCarthy, the durable front row and excellent flanker Josh van der Flier all played leading roles as Ireland built up a head of steam once again.

Scannell set up a grandstand finish with a well-struck penalty, rewarding another strong scrum from the Irish pack and making it 9-8 with a quarter of an hour remaining.

However, in a tense and pressure-filled finale, both Serin and Scannell missed off the kicking tee as Didier Retiere's youngsters prevailed by a single point.

Speaking afterwards, Ireland head coach Mike Ruddock said: “We are disappointed to lose, we want to congratulate France on winning. But we are disappointed because we scored the only try of the game and we had the opportunity to kick our goals and win the game comfortably.

“Unfortunately we didn't kick our goals on the night but the second half totally belonged to Ireland, we played more rugby.”

TIME LINE: 1 minute – Ireland yellow card: Darren Sweetnam; 2 mins – France penalty: Baptiste Serin – 3-0; 13 mins – Ireland penalty: missed by Niall Scannell – 3-0; 30 mins – Ireland try: Ryan Murphy – 3-5; conversion: missed by Niall Scannell – 3-5; 34 mins – France penalty: Baptiste Serin – 6-5; Half-time – France 6 Ireland 5; 47 mins – France penalty: Baptiste Serin – 9-5; 63 mins – Ireland penalty: Niall Scannell – 9-8; 76 mins – France penalty: missed by Baptiste Serin – 9-8; 80 mins – Ireland penalty: missed by Niall Scannell – 9-8; Full-time – France 9 Ireland 8

Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)