Thursday 18 January 2018

Hanrahan stakes his claim for Ireland squad inclusion

Emerging Ireland 25-0 Emerging Italy

JJ Hanrahan gave a fine performance as Emerging Ireland cruised to victory
JJ Hanrahan gave a fine performance as Emerging Ireland cruised to victory

Matt Lloyd

Emerging Ireland coach Girvan Dempsey reckons JJ Hanrahan sent a World Cup statement with a virtuoso performance in Georgia.

The Northampton-bound outside-half ignited Ireland's back line to set up three of four first-half tries to send Allen Clarke's men to a 25-0 triumph over Emerging Italy in their first Tbilisi Cup clash.

The 22-year-old gave Eoin Griffin a simple run-in before he displayed his full repertoire of talents to set up Andrew Conway and Stuart McCloskey.

They were dragged into a scrappy second half that stalled their momentum, but Tiernan O'Halloran got over in the final play to seal their maiden triumph in eastern Europe.

And 82-cap international Dempsey, who was impressed with what he saw from Hanrahan, said: "JJ controlled the game really well, we saw his full range of skills and he got to show his great passing ability.

"We saw his full skill set today, he passed well for the first try, he produced a pin-point kick for the second and made a great break for the third try.

"He had one of the highest tackle counts out on the pitch which shows he's desperate to impress."

Hanrahan kicked off the masterclass with a third-minute penalty after the Italian back line crept offside.

The Munster playmaker orchestrated a swift attack 10 minutes later. First he sent Stephen Archer crashing down the middle before he got his hands on the quickly recycled ball to send centre Griffin over the try-line.

Italy prop Federico Zani was sent to the sin-bin for collapsing a maul five minutes later, and Ireland made full use of their man advantage. Hanrahan was once again the architect as he delivered a perfectly weighted cross-field kick into the hands of Munster colleague Conway, who only had to dot down.

He was at it again before half-time when he broke free and ran 60 metres before handing the scoring pass to McCloskey, and Hanrahan converted.

Ireland did not have it their own way in the second half, but O'Halloran squeezed over in the final act to secure a winning start in Georgia.

EMERGING IRELAND - T O'Halloran; A Conway, E Griffin, S McCloskey, M Healy;JJ Hanrahan, L McGrath; D Buckley (A Warwick 74), R Herring (D Heffernan 54), S Archer (F Bealham 50), B Marshall, B Holland (A Browne 63), R Ruddock (c) (E Masterson 55), D Leavy, J Conan.

EMERGING ITALY - A Chiesa (c); F Guarducci (P Ceccarelli 30-37), R Quartaroli, G Massaro (G Benvenuti 28), G di Giulio; C Canna (S Negri 60), S Marinaro; F Zani (G Di Stefano 55), L Bigi (O Fabiani 48), G Iacob (P Ceccarelli 50), F Ruzza, F Gerosa (M Amenta 74), M Corazzi (C Canna 62), E Caffini (A Zdrilich 61), M Mbanda.

Ref - M Raynal (France)

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