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Ireland Under-20s Have No Answer To Ruthless Baby Blacks
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Ireland Under-20s Have No Answer To Ruthless Baby Blacks

Ireland Under-20s Have No Answer To Ruthless Baby Blacks

The New Zealand Under-20s avenged last year’s World Rugby U-20 Championship defeat to Ireland in emphatic style by romping to an eleven-try 69-3 victory in sweltering Kutaisi.

Running riot at times in their third bonus point win of the tournament, the Baby Blacks used their size advantage and greater pace, execution and experience to dish out a demoralising defeat to Peter Malone's Ireland youngsters who will meet Samoa in the 9th-12th place play-offs in Tbilisi next Tuesday (kick-off 1pm local time/10am Irish time).

Caleb Clarke and Will Jordan scored two tries apiece and Braydon Ennor also dotted down as the Pool B winners streaked into a 31-3 half-time lead, with Conor Fitzgerald's penalty having given Ireland an early lead.

The Ireland U-20s have had an awful luck with injuries this season, arriving in Georgia without a number of their first choice players, and they suffered another setback when stand-in captain Jack Kelly hobbled off with an ankle injury on the half hour mark.

Determined to banish memories of that 33-24 loss to the Irish in Manchester twelve months ago, the semi-final bound New Zealanders, who advance as top seeds, failed to ease up on the resumption as early tries from Tom Christie and Ereatara Enari stretched their lead out to 40 points.

Even with Kiwi second rows Isaia Walker-Leawere and Sam Caird in the sin-bin, tiring Ireland could not force a try of their own and a record defeat at this level was confirmed by further tries from hat-trick heroes Clarke and Jordan, replacement Josh McKay and out-half Tiaan Falcon who also landed seven conversions.

Head coach Malone said afterwards: “Credit to New Zealand, it was a super performance and they fully deserved their victory. We couldn't live with them. We thought we'd try and upset them with our line-speed but we didn't. We're disappointed. We thought we'd give it a good crack and might get a bit closer, but it was all about New Zealand today.

“Next week will be a massive game for us against whoever we are playing. Results have been disappointing, but we're a good group and we have worked hard and I think the guys will be able to regroup and get themselves mentally right.”

Malone had made wholesale changes from last Sunday's four-point loss to Scotland, handing debuts to U-19 backs David McCarthy and Liam Coombes while six players, in all, made their first starts at U-20 level – including front rowers Adam Moloney and Greg McGrath.

An early scrum penalty would have pleased the latter pair, and having kicked to the corner, Ireland retained possession, drew an offside in front of the posts and Shannon clubman Fitzgerald kicked them into a fourth-minute lead.

Falcon missed a penalty in response and Gavin Coombes' brilliant work at the breakdown broke up a threatening New Zealand attack. However, the Irish defence was unlocked in superb fashion by Clarke in the 10th minute, the big winger bursting through a gap off a lineout and then getting away from Michael Silvester to cross the whitewash. Falcon converted from the left for 7-3.

Ireland ended the opening quarter with a 12-3 deficit, full-back Jordan becoming the second member of New Zealand's back-three to touch down with centre Ennor haring through a gap out wide and providing the scoring pass.

Midfield duo Orbyn Leger and Ennor then combined for a 21st minute score, the latter's return pass giving Ennor an easy run-in behind the posts and Falcon converted. Jordan registered the bonus point barely two minutes later, another terrific passing move unleashing the full-back and he left a number of Irish players trailing in his wake.

Ireland spent the next ten or so minutes on the attack, the hard-working pack pressing from a rolling maul in the New Zealand 22. Despite doing well to keep it tight and recycle quickly, a try remained frustratingly out of their reach. They were not helped by referee Jaco van Heerden's decision not to use his yellow card after four penalties in quick succession by the Kiwis.

Ireland's mood darkened further when Clarke sped clear up the left touchline for his second try after slick handling from the Baby Blacks, including a great catch off his bootlaces by talented number 10 Falcon. The conversion was missed, leaving 28 points between the sides at the break.

New Zealand mercilessly resumed on the front foot, flanker Christie scoring off the back of a maul and scrum half Enari tagging on a quick-fire second try thanks to hooker Asafo Aumua's barnstorming charge through midfield as he bounced off John Foley's attempted tackle and shrugged off a couple more defenders.

Even the loss of Walker-Leawere and Caird to the bin failed to put Craig Philpott's super-charged side off their stride. Ireland hammered away at the line but had no try to show for their valiant efforts up front, eventually leaking a turnover penalty. The narrow and increasingly leggy green-shirted defence was duly punished by Clarke's hat-trick score from 30 metres out.

A miserable afternoon for the Ireland U-20s was compounded by three more tries from McKay, Falcon and Jordan in the final 13 minutes, the latter two coming while lock Coombes was in the bin. A telling statistic was that the Baby Blacks made over 160 tackles, showing their fierce determination to shut out Ireland even when down to 13 players.

TIME LINE: 4 minutes – Ireland penalty: Conor Fitzgerald – 3-0; 7 mins – New Zealand penalty: missed by Tiaan Falcon – 3-0; 10 mins – New Zealand try: Caleb Clarke – 3-5; conversion: Tiaan Falcon – 3-7; 17 mins – New Zealand try: Will Jordan – 3-12; conversion: missed by Tiaan Falcon – 3-12; 21 mins – New Zealand try: Braydon Ennor – 3-17; conversion: Tiaan Falcon – 3-19; 23 mins – New Zealand try: Will Jordan – 3-24; conversion: Tiaan Falcon – 3-26; 36 mins – New Zealand try: Caleb Clarke – 3-31; conversion: missed by Tiaan Falcon – 3-31; Half-time – Ireland 3 New Zealand 31; 42 mins – New Zealand try: Tom Christie – 3-36; conversion: Tiaan Falcon – 3-38; 43 mins – New Zealand try: Ereatara Enari – 3-43; conversion: missed by Tiaan Falcon – 3-43; 53 mins – New Zealand yellow card: Isaia Walker-Leawere; 57 mins – New Zealand yellow card: Sam Caird; 60 mins – New Zealand try; Caleb Clarke – 3-48; conversion: Tiaan Falcon – 3-50; 67 mins – New Zealand try: Josh McKay – 3-55; conversion: Tiaan Falcon – 3-57; 68 mins – Ireland yellow card: Gavin Coombes; 72 mins – New Zealand try: Tiaan Falcon – 3-62; conversion: missed by Tiaan Falcon – 3-62; 77 mins – New Zealand try: Will Jordan – 3-67; conversion: Tiaan Falcon – 3-69; Full-time – Ireland 3 New Zealand 69

Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Alan Tynan (Young Munster/Munster); Michael Silvester (Dublin University/Leinster), Jack Kelly (Dublin University/Leinster) (capt), David McCarthy (Garryowen/Munster), Liam Coombes (Garryowen/Munster); Conor Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster), Jonny Stewart (Queen's University/Ulster); Joey Conway (UL Bohemians/Munster), Adam Moloney (Shannon/Munster), Greg McGrath (Lansdowne/Leinster), Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster), Jack Regan (UCD/Leinster), Marcus Rea (Queen's University/Ulster), John Foley (Shannon/Munster), Sean Masterson (Corinthians/Connacht).

Replacements used: Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster) for Kelly (29 mins), Caelan Doris (St. Mary's College/Leinster) for Rea (half-time), Conor Dean (St. Mary's College/Leinster) for Fitzgerald (47), Charlie Connolly (Dublin University/Leinster) for McGrath (52), Jordan Duggan (Naas/Leinster) for Conway (55), Jack Stafford (Shannon/Munster) for Stewart (56), Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster) for Masterson (61), Ronan Kelleher (UCD/Leinster) for Moloney (66), Stewart for L Coombes (70).

Away Team

Will Jordan (Tasman); Tima Faingaanuku (Tasman), Braydon Ennor (Canterbury), Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau), Caleb Clarke (Auckland); Tiaan Falcon (Hawke's Bay), Ereatara Enari (Canterbury); Ezekiel Lindenmuth (Auckland), Asafo Aumua (Wellington), Alex Fidow (Wellington), Isaia Walker-Leawere (Wellington), Sam Caird (Waikato), Sam Slade (Auckland), Tom Christie (Canterbury), Luke Jacobson (Waikato) (capt).

Replacements used: Thomas Umaga-Jensen (Wellington) for Leger (43 mins), Marino Mikaele-Tu'u (Hawke's Bay) for Jacobson (47), Harrison Allan (Canterbury) for Lindenmuth, Pouri Rakete-Stones (Hawke's Bay) for Fidow (both 55), Josh McKay (Canterbury) for Ennor (61), John Sauni (Auckland) for Aumua, Adrian Choat (Auckland) for Alade (both 63), Kemara Hauiti-Parapara (Wellington) for Enari (65).

Match Scorers

Home Team

Pen: Conor Fitzgerald

Away Team

Tries: Caleb Clarke 3, Will Jordan 3, Braydon Ennor, Tom Christie, Ereatara Enari, Josh McKay, Tiaan Falcon; Cons: Tiaan Falcon 7