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Thursday 14 December 2017

Malone: We expect much better from an Ireland team

Ireland 3 New Zealand 69

Peter Malone knew it was going to be tough but not even in his worst nightmares could he have imagined his Ireland U-20s performing as poorly against a ruthless New Zealand side.

By the end of an utterly one-sided game, the Baby Blacks had scored 11 tries all the while keeping Malone's charges at bay.

Injuries were again a major problem as skipper Jack Kelly and Conor Fitzgerald (both ankle) were forced off but even still, the passiveness of Ireland's play was hugely disappointing.

Fitzgerald arrived in Georgia at the start of the week but when he left the pitch, it summed up Ireland's struggles as they lost their fourth-choice out-half.

Nevertheless, Malone will have been furious with how easy New Zealand cut Ireland to shreds - at one stage in the second half, they were down to 13 players and still managed to work the ball from inside their own 22 and score.


Ireland now face the possibility of finishing 12th and thus being relegated from the top tier. They meet Samoa on Tuesday when a win would ease those fears.

"It's an Irish team representing Ireland and we expect them to perform better than that," a disappointed Malone bemoaned.

"We couldn't live with their pace or offloading. We thought we might upset them with our line speed but we didn't."

It had all started so positively for Ireland with Gavin Coombes and Sean Masterson taking the game to the Baby Blacks up front.

Fitzgerald's fourth-minute penalty put Ireland in front but after that it was all one-way traffic. A brace of tries each from the outstanding duo Will Jordan and Caleb Clarke as well as one from Braydon Ennor left Ireland chasing the game. Tiaan Falcon added three conversions for a comfortable 31-3 half-time lead.

There was no let-up after the restart as Thomas Christie got over for a sixth try before Ereatara Enari got in on the action after some weak defending. Second-row pair Sam Caird and Isaia Walker-Leawere were both sent to the bin but Clarke still managed to complete his hat-trick. Jordan did the same soon after Josh McKay eased over.

With Coombes in the bin, Falcon capped an impressive display with an 11th try to add to his four second-half conversions.

Ireland's attentions now turn to Samoa in Tbilisi on Tuesday -on yesterday's evidence, massive improvements are needed.

Ireland U-20 - A Tynan; M Silvester, J Kelly (C Frawley 30), D McCarthy, L Coombes; C Fitzgerald (C Dean, 58), J Stewart (J Stafford 56); J Conway (J Duggan 55), A Moloney (R Kelleher 70), G McGrath (C Connolly 53); G Coombes, J Regan; M Rea (C Doris h-t), J Foley, S Masterson (F Wycherley 62).

New Zealand U-20 - W Jordan; L Faingaanuku (J McKay 61), B Ennor (J Sauni 61), O Leger (T Umaga-Jensen 43), C Clarke; T Falcon, E Enari (K Hauiti-Parapara 65); E Lindenmuth (H Allan 55), A Amua (A Choat 63), A Fidow (P Rakete-Stones 55); I Walker-Leawere, S Caird; S Slade, T Christie, L Jacobsen (M Mikaele Tu'u 47).

Ref - J van Heerdan (South Africa)


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