Sunday 26 February 2017

Conway hat-trick caps Ireland response

IRELAND 53
SCOTLAND 23

Ruaidhri O'Connor in Parana

IRELAND's U-20s yesterday finished off their Junior World Championships campaign the same way they did the Six Nations, by comfortably dismissing Scotland.

This time in Parana there was no silverware at stake, but Ireland produced their best performance since arriving in Argentina, running in seven tries, with full-back Andrew Conway scoring a hat-trick.

In scoring 90 points in their two play-off games, Ireland have responded well to finishing bottom of their pool, but the victories were bittersweet, serving as a reminder of what might have been had they converted their chances in the group stages.

"We probably created a similar amount of chances in other games," coach Allen Clarke admitted. "But we took them today and even though Scotland came back into it, we came out with even greater purpose in the second half.

"I challenged the players on their mental preparation and their attitude today. In our last game were they going to go out and give their best, or were they thinking about going home? The response was fantastic."

Ireland raced into an early lead as they exploited a weakness on the Scottish right flank over and over again.

Simon Zebo and Noel Reid had kicked their side into a 6-0 lead before Reid moved the ball left after Brian O'Hara had forced a turnover and Zebo put Conway over in the corner.

A Robert Harley try and the boot of Duncan Weir narrowed the gap to 25-16 at the break, but Ireland exploded to life in the second half with the impressive Zebo crossing for a try from a neat Reid inside pass.

Captain Niall Annett was next to score after a fluent move involving Conway and Bryan Cagney, and although the Scottish scrum pushed its way over for a Stuart McInally try, a stunning Irish counter-attack saw John Cooney chip over the cover and Conway outstrip the defence to score his third.

Cooney then scored from a Paddy Butler tap-down at the line-out and as the game got scrappy, Ireland couldn't breach the 60-point mark as they cantered home.

IRELAND -- A Conway (J McKinney 70); A Boyle, E Griffin, N Spence (M Kelleher 72), S Zebo; N Reid, J Cooney (M Heaney 72); B Cagney (D Buckley 66), N Annett (capt, D Doyle 60), M Moore; D O'Callaghan, B Hayes (R O'Sullivan 54); D Ryan, B O'Hara (J Murphy 50), P Butler.

SCOTLAND -- T Brown (O Grove 72); C MacBurnie, J Johnstone, A Dunbar (M Scott 57), M Tait; D Weir, A Black (R Weir 77); A Kent, A Walker (A Fedorciow 82), N Little (C Phillips 77); D Denton, G Gilchrist; R Harley, C Stidston-Nott, S McInally (capt, R McAlpine 90).

REF -- G Williamson (New Zealand).

Irish Independent

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