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U20s in bonus territory but plenty to work on

Ireland U20s 38 Scotland U20s 26





A perfect start to Ireland's defence of their U20 Grand Slam as Noel McNamara's men scored a decisive win at Irish Independent Park.

Scotland may have finished bottom of the table for the past two years but deservedly snatched a bonus point at the death.

An intercept try by out-half Jack Crowley for his second of the game just before the break put Ireland in control. They turned around leading 21-12 and never really looked back after that, running in a brace inside seven minutes of the restart to wrap up all five points. But there will be plenty for McNamara and his coaching team to work on before they host Wales next Friday, not least in the scrum and lapses in defence.

Ireland enjoyed a strong start. Crowley got in for his opening try after a superb break by centre Dan Kelly. Bandon native Crowley added the conversion but from the restart Scotland showed they were up for a battle and excellent hooker Ewan Ashmangot them back in the game when he barged through to score after 16 minutes.

A kick from inside his own 22 by Scottish out-half Nathan Chamberlain went dead at the other end and Ireland made the bounce count, forcing a penalty which they scrummed and the pressure eventually told when tighthead Tom Clarkson managed to get over.

Crowley's conversion made it 14-5 but Jacob Henry failed to get his fingers to a crossfield kick from Chamberlain and Jack Blain scored in the corner to cut the gap to 14-12.

Scotland, pushed forward before the break but replacement prop Thomas Lambert knocked on and Crowley broke from inside his own 22 to score, fending off the challenge of Scotland full-back Ollie Smith to score, before adding the points to lead 21-12 at the break.

The latest Sean O'Brien to arrive on the scene - this one is through Blackrock College and UCD - set up winger Andrew Smith for the bonus point three minutes after the restart.

And then 6'9" lock Tom Ahern from Waterford showed remarkable pace down the right wing to finish a turnover from deep by stretching to score in the right corner and make it 33-12.

But Scotland, who finished with 14 men when replacement winger Rufus McLean was binned for a clumsy challenge in the air, didn't give up.

Out-half Nathan Chamberlain scored with a dummy. While replacement hooker John McKee hit back with a sixth try six minutes from the end, Scotland secured a bonus point in the final play when replacement centre Cameron Scott got through to score.