Wednesday 13 December 2017

Five talking points from Ireland's historic win over Argentina

Shane Daly, second from left, of Ireland celebrates scoring a late try
Shane Daly, second from left, of Ireland celebrates scoring a late try

Tadhg Peavoy

Ireland are through to their first-ever World Rugby Under-20s final following today's masterclass against Argentina. Here are five talking points from that memorable 37-7 win.

1 McPhillips running the show

Outhalf Johnny McPhillips gave a masterclass at No 10 to instigate all that was good about Ireland’s display. A near flawless performance from the tee was good, but it was his vision in spreading the ball wide at every opportunity that saw Ireland race into a 21-0 lead which they never looked like relinquishing.

2 Squad rotation pays off

Head coach Nigel Carolan made 12 changes to the side that saw off Georgia 35-7 in Ireland’s final pool match and that recovery time paid off spectacularly against Argentina. While Los Pumitas looked jaded and out on their feet for much of the tie, Ireland were revitalised and played like a side just starting a tournament not entering the final stages.

A huge challenge awaits in facing England or South Africa in the decider this Saturday but that freshness could yet carry over into the final.

3 Deegan the key ball carrier

Ireland had go-forward ball over the pitch with Andrew Porter, Adam McBurney and James Ryan all excellent in that facet. But the star performer was Max Deegan.

The Lansdowne man was abrasive with ball in hand, constantly involved in the attack, and looks like a senior star in the making. A similar performance from him is essential if Ireland are to go on and win the final.

Max Deegan of Ireland scores a try

4 The back three play was out of this world

While the Irish were in truth better all over the pitch, the back three deserve special praise. Jacob Stockdale gave a stunning display from fullback, joining the line constantly and hitting it with pace. He regularly joined as a third centre which left Los Pumitas short in midfield and constantly having to shuffle across to make cover tackles.

Added to that the switch play of both wings Matthew Byrne and Hugo Keenan gave Ireland valuable ground and platform to attack off, which Argentina consistently failed to anticipate.

5 Making the final is a huge achievement

It goes without saying that wining the final is now the goal but just making it is an achievement in itself. This is the ninth edition of the tournament and only the second time that Ireland have made the last four (that first appearance coming in 2014 in New Zealand).

If Ireland were to go on and win outright it would rank up there with Ireland’s Grand Slams in 1948 and 2009, and the Irish women’s fourth place at the 2014 World Cup, as one of the nation’s greatest achievements in the sport.

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