Wednesday 17 January 2018

Crosbie determined Ireland will finish with flourish

John Fallon

Ireland U-20s out-half Steve Crosbie says they will put the heartbreak of Thursday's 31-26 defeat to New Zealand behind them quickly in an effort to emulate last year's best-ever finish of fifth in the Junior World Championship.

Mike Ruddock's men will take on hosts France in a semi-final for fifth place at La Roche-sur-Yon on Tuesday evening, with the winners going on to play either Australia or Argentina the following Sunday. The losers of both semi-finals will clash for seventh place.

Final placings will decide the seedings for next season and Crosbie said the focus now would be to give Ireland every possible chance when the tournament is held in New Zealand next year.

"There is no way we are taking the foot off the pedal here now. We set our goals to win this competition, but that's not possible now. We want to finish as well as we can and keep the standard the same as last year," said the Old Belvedere clubman, who is nursing a shoulder injury after the clash with the Baby Blacks but is expected to be fit for Tuesday.

"Ireland finished fifth last year so we are going to do the same, so it helps the lads for next year to have the opportunity of a good tournament."

Ireland's fifth place last year should have ensured a more favourable draw this time round but a series of unlikely results – including a first ever defeat for the Baby Blacks when Wales shocked them, and Argentina's victory over the Wallabies – left Ireland with a tough pool. While they saw off Australia and Fiji, New Zealand proved a bridge too far in a cracking contest in Vannes.

"We really thought we had a chance against them. We did our homework and we were just a bit unlucky with the yellow card, that's when they took their points really clinically. When we had our 15 men on the pitch we showed what we could do and we came back at them. It was very unlucky at the end, but that's rugby I suppose," added the former St Gerard's student, who is now in DIT.

New Zealand now meet Wales in the semi-finals proper, with champions South Africa playing an England side who advanced instead of Ireland thanks to a superior try-scoring record, although they got 17 of their 23 tries in the rout of a USA side who shipped more than a century for the second time in three pool games.

Irish Independent

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