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Kendellen Leads Ireland U-20s To Impressive First Win
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Kendellen Leads Ireland U-20s To Impressive First Win

Kendellen Leads Ireland U-20s To Impressive First Win

Ireland Under-20 captain Alex Kendellen is pictured in possession during this afternoon's clash with Scotland at Cardiff Arms Park ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

The Ireland Under-20s, sponsored by PwC, racked up six tries in an encouraging 38-7 bonus point win over Scotland on the opening day of the rescheduled U-20 Six Nations in Cardiff.

Match Photo Gallery: Scotland U-20s 7 Ireland U-20s 38

Richie Murphy’s first match in charge saw Ireland lead 14-7 at half-time, tagging a late penalty try – which also saw Scotland’s Michael Gray sin-binned – onto Alex Soroka’s third-minute opener.

Harri Morris was then sent-off for taking Jamie Osborne out in the air, and Ireland used their second-half numerical advantage to sew up the result with scores from Sam Illo, captain Alex Kendellen, Shane Jennings and full-back Osborne.

Kendellen led the way with a player-of-the-match performance from number 8, while fellow back rower Oisin McCormack, rangy centre Jennings and the front row contingent also impressed.

The well-judged victory extended Ireland’s winning streak between the 2019 and 2021 U-20 Six Nations tournaments to nine matches. Hosts Wales, back at the Arms Park next Friday, are their second round opponents.

Ireland were first to settle in today’s opener, Josh O’Connor and McCormack driving them right up to the Scottish try-line before a spell of picking-and-driving ended with blindside Soroka burrowing over.

After out-half James Humphreys had converted, both teams probed with the boot and the Irish defence stood up to the early Scottish attacks, with Kendellen picking up a turnover penalty.

However, a series of penalties brought Scotland into range and, armed with a penalty advantage in the 20th minute, Cameron Scott’s inviting dink was brilliantly scooped up by centre Elliot Gourlay for a converted try at the posts.

Ireland had to absorb persistent Scottish pressure – hooker Patrick Harrison was prominent in the carry – before Cathal Forde’s ball-dislodging tackle allowed Kendellen to kick clear out of his 22.

Murphy’s side made the most of their luck four minutes before the break, a Forde pass bouncing forward off Osborne’s head and a stray Scottish kick opened up an opportunity. McCormack dribbled through, past the try-line, and was tackled early as he attempted to score.

Following the TMO review, Italian referee Gianluca Gnecchi binned winger Gray for the infringement and awarded the penalty try as Ireland retook the lead at 14-7.

Despite having the extra man, Ireland were on the back foot for the remainder of the first half. Openside McCormack got in to disrupt and force a knock-on, though, after a five-metre scrum and a strong carry by Ben Muncaster.

It was a disastrous start to the second period for the Scots, who had flanker Morris dismissed after just 29 seconds for a reckless challenge on Osborne as he claimed a high ball.

Within a minute of the red card, Ireland’s lively tighthead Illo barged over to the right of the posts, the momentum built by a powerful initial maul. Tim Corkery, who had replaced Humphreys (HIA), was unable to convert.

Handling errors prevented Ireland from scoring again until the lineout platform worked a treat in the 56th minute. Harry Sheridan plucked the ball down, and with Illo and Temi Lasisi providing the grunt, Kendellen was driven over to make it 24-7.

Now dominating both territory and possession, Ireland bagged their bonus at the start of the final quarter. Set free by a nice spread of passes, Jennings used the support outside to ghost through a gap for an excellent effort from 25 metres out.

The extras safely added by Corkery, the impact provided by the Irish bench was typified by prop Jack Boyle who clamped down to win two turnover penalties – the second one just as Scotland looked poise to claw a try back.

Ballinasloe youngster Jennings missed out on an electric second try for a slight knock-on. Kendellen and replacement Chris Cosgrave worked hard to set it up for him, and Jennings showed his pace and footballing skills before his score was chalked off.

That sixth and final try did arrive two minutes from the end, Jennings’ counter down the left igniting the attack again. O’Connor, replacement Will Reilly and Kendellen all made further ground before Osborne stretched out to score.

Corkery clipped over his second successful conversion, and Ireland continued to frustrate a gallant Scotland at the breakdown. In the dying seconds, replacement Donnacha Byrne came up with the turnover ball.

TIME LINE: 3 minutes – Ireland try: Alex Soroka – 0-5; conversion: James Humphreys – 0-7; 20 mins – Scotland try: Elliot Gourlay – 5-7; conversion: Cameron Scott – 7-7; 36 mins – Ireland try: Penalty try & conversion – 7-14; Scotland yellow card: Michael Gray; Half-time – Scotland 7 Ireland 14; 41 mins – Scotland red card: Harri Morris; 42 mins – Ireland try: Sam Illo – 7-19; conversion: missed by Tim Corkery – 7-19; 56 mins – Ireland try: Alex Kendellen – 7-24; conversion: missed by Tim Corkery – 7-24; 62 mins – Ireland try: Shane Jennings – 7-29; conversion: Tim Corkery – 7-31; 78 mins – Ireland try: Jamie Osborne – 7-36; conversion: Tim Corkery – 7-38; Full-time – Scotland 7 Ireland 38

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Ollie Melville (Boroughmuir Bears/Glasgow Warriors); Finlay Callaghan (Ayrshire Bulls/Glasgow Warriors), Scott King (Heriot's Rugby/Edinburgh Rugby), Elliot Gourlay (Sale Sharks), Michael Gray (Boroughmuir Bears/Glasgow Warriors); Cameron Scott (Southern Knights/Edinburgh Rugby), Murray Redpath (Newcastle University); Cole Lamberton (Watsonians Rugby/Edinburgh Rugby), Patrick Harrison (Southern Knights/Edinburgh Rugby), Olly Frostick (Ealing Trailfinders), Max Williamson (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), Alex Samuel (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors) (capt), Archie Smeaton (Cambridge University), Harri Morris (Southern Knights), Ben Muncaster (Watsonians Rugby/Edinburgh Rugby). Replacements used: George Breese (Stirling Wolves) for Frostick (half-time), Rhys Tait (Southern Knights) for Callaghan (45 mins), Ethan McVicker (Melrose Rugby) for Redpath (47), Jamie Drummond (Ayrshire Bulls) for Harrison, Michael Jones (Boroughmuir Bears) for Lamberton (both 50), Christian Townsend (Ayrshire Bulls) for Scott (60), Ollie Leatherbarrow (Exeter University) for Smeaton (61), Euan Ferrie (Glasgow Hawks) for Samuel (72), Frostick for Breese (79). Not used: Rory Jackson (Ayrshire Bulls/Glasgow Warriors), Thomas Glendinning (Glasgow Hawks), Ross McKnight (Stirling County).

Away Team

Jamie Osborne (Naas CBS/Naas RFC/Leinster); Ben Moxham (Larne High School/Ballymena RFC/Ulster), Shane Jennings (Garbally College/Buccaneers RFC/Connacht), Cathal Forde (Colaiste Iognaid/Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht), Josh O'Connor (St. Peter's College/UCD RFC/Leinster); James Humphreys (Dean Close School/Queen's University Belfast RFC/Ulster), Conor McKee (Sullivan Upper School/Queen's University Belfast RFC/Ulster); Temi Lasisi (CBS Enniscorthy/Lansdowne FC/Leinster), Ronan Loughnane (Cistercian College Roscrea/UCD RFC/Leinster), Sam Illo (Wesley College/Old Wesley RFC/Leinster), Mark Morrissey (Blackrock College/UCD RFC/Leinster), Harry Sheridan (Sullivan Upper School/Dublin University FC/Ulster), Alex Soroka (Belvedere College/Clontarf RFC/Leinster), Oisin McCormack (Garbally College/Buccaneers RFC/Connacht), Alex Kendellen (PBC Cork/UCC RFC/Munster) (capt). Replacements used: Tim Corkery (St. Kieran's College, Kilkenny/UCD RFC/Leinster) for Humphreys (29 mins), Reuben Crothers (Wallace High School/Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster) for Soroka (47), Chris Cosgrave (St. Michael's College/UCD RFC/Leinster) for O'Connor (54), Mark Donnelly (CBC Cork/Garryowen FC/Munster) for Illo, Jack Boyle (St. Michael's College/UCD RFC/Leinster) for Lasisi, Donnacha Byrne (Summerhill College/Sligo RFC/Connacht) for McCormack (all 58), Eoin de Buitlear (Scoil Chuimsitheach Chiaráin/An Ghaeltacht/Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht) for Loughnane (61), Will Reilly (CBS Portlaoise/MU Barnhall RFC/Leinster) for McKee (63). Not used: Jack Kelleher (PBC Cork/UCC RFC/Munster), Ben Carson (Wallace High School/Banbridge RFC/Ulster), Daniel Okeke (Ardscoil Ris/Shannon RFC/Munster).

Match Scorers

Home Team

Try: Elliot Gourlay; Con: Cameron Scott

Away Team

Tries: Alex Soroka, Penalty try, Sam Illo, Alex Kendellen, Shane Jennings, Jamie Osborne; Cons: James Humphreys, Pen try con, Tim Corkery 2