Plenty to be positive about despite failure – Ruddock
Australia u-20 28, Ireland u-20 17
IRELAND U-20 coach Mike Ruddock said that his players will have benefited enormously from the Junior World Championship despite their campaign fizzling out in France.
Ireland had to settle for eighth place after a second-half comeback came up short against an Australia side they had defeated in the opening game.
"In terms of player development, this has been a very good tournament, a good learning curve for these young players. Of course, we would have hoped to be at least top four, but I couldn't fault the effort of the players," said Ruddock.
"It is a competition with very tight margins, but that, in turn, is great in helping the players develop."
Ireland, playing against the strong breeze, were under the kosh from an early stage and after falling behind to a brace of penalties, they left themselves with a mountain to climb when winger Harry Parker got over for Australia's opening try after 22 minutes.
Ireland, with three players ruled out due to injury, lost injured winger Adam Byrne before the game and eight minutes in, lock Gavin Thornbury was carried off.
The Wallabies extended their lead to 20-0 after 27 minutes through captain Curtis Browning, but Ireland eventually managed to build the phases and respond.
A penalty count of 9-4 in Ireland's favour at the interval would have been much greater had Italian referee Marius Mitrea strictly imposed the offside law, but Ireland got off the mark shortly before the break when Rory Scannell converted a penalty in front of the posts.
Ireland got a great start to the second half with another penalty from Scannell, before the centre set up Rory Scholes for a try in the right corner which reduced the deficit to 20-11.
But Ireland just could not turn possession into tries after that and had to be content with a brace of penalties from Scannell before the Wallabies wrapped up the issue with a try from Alex Northam in the final quarter.
AUSTRALIA – J Placid; H Parker, L Foketi, L Burton, A Northam; J McIntyre, W Wessels; P Paraka, A Ready, O Hoskins; S Toleafoa, T Staniforth; M Wells, M Baldwin, C Browning. Reps: S Latu for Paraka (40), J Dempsey for Baldwin (40), B Meehan for Wessels (62), R Hodge for McIntyre (62), A Alaalatoa for Hoskins (62), P Sio for Toleafoa (76)
IRELAND – R Scholes (Ulster); M Roche (Connacht) T Farrell (Leinster), R Scannell (Munster), A Wootton (Northampton Saints); S Crosbie (Leinster), L McGrath (Leinster); E Byrne (Leinster), B Byrne (Leinster), C Taylor (Ulster); G Thornbury (Leinster), J Donnan (Ulster); D Leavy (Leinster), J van der Flier (Leinster), C Joyce (Ulster). Reps: S McCarthy (Munster) for Thornbury (8), R Murphy (Munster) for Joyce (58), G McGuigan (Newcastle Falcons) for B Byrne (66), P Timmins (Leinster) Donnan (66), A Boland (Connacht) for Taylor (68), D Shanahan (Leinster) for McGrath (73), R Furniss (Worcester Warriors) for E Byrne (76) D Panter for Wootton (78).
REF – M Mitrea (Italy).