Thursday 22 March 2018

Storming finish sees Ireland through

Ireland 30
Scotland 13

JOHN FALLON, in Rovigo

Ireland produced a storming finish at Stadio Mario Battaglini in Rovigo last night to qualify for the second tier in the knockout stages of the under 20 Junior World Championship next week.

All of the frustrations built up in the losses against England and South Africa were channelled into a storming finish that produced three converted tries in the space of six minutes to stun Scotland.

It was no more than Ireland deserved after quality performances against England and the Baby Boks yielded nothing.

They will now go into the second tier of the knockout stages next week and are guaranteed to improve on last year's tournament when they finished ninth.

Ireland, having coughed up early tries in both of their opening games, needed a solid start last night and they got it when the first attack yielded a penalty which Paddy Jackson slotted from 30 metres on the right-wing.

But Ireland struggled to build on that bright start and Duncan Weir, having missed one from 25 metres, slotted a penalty from in front of the posts after some sustained possession after 16 minutes.

Both sides struggled to deal with the intense humidity and it was quite obvious that the three games in eight days had taken its toll on both sets of players.

Ireland edged back in front after 26 minutes with another penalty from 30 metres but they were unable to open a disciplined Scottish defence.

Weir missed his second kick of the night when an effort from the left swung away from the posts and Jackson was also off target at the other end.

Neither side created a try scoring chance in the opening half, with boot being put to ball in a bid in an effort to set up chances.

Scotland upped the ante after the restart and took the game to Ireland with some excellent rugby as they worked it through the phases and Mike Ruddock's men did well to keep their line intact.

Tiernan O'Halloran produced a superb tackle to deny Kerr Gossman, while Jackson did likewise several phases later when it seemed that Scotland flanker Hamish Watson was poised to score.

Ireland hit back and the pressure yielded another penalty opportunity and Jackson obliged to make it 9-3 after 56 minutes.

But Ireland just could not put Scotland away and after Jackson missed a penalty from 40 metres, the Scots closed the gap to just three points with nine minutes remaining and a tight finish seemed inevitable.

However, the game turned on a superb break from Brendan Macken who put his Blackrock colleague Andrew Conway in for his fourth try of the tournament with seven minutes remaining.

Jackson added the points to put ten between them and Ireland then cut loose to seal the win with a flourishing finish.

Ian Henderson set up Luke Marshall with an excellent break down the left and this time James McKinney converted having just come on.

And they finished in style with replacements David Doyle and Daniel Qualter combining to send their skipper Niall Annett over for another converted try.

Scotland pulled back a consolation score in the dying moments when Danny Gilmour finished a good move down the left -- but it is Ireland who go on to play South Africa in Padua on Wednesday in the semi-final for fifth place. Wales and Fiji will meet in the other semi-final.

Scorers -- Ireland: Conway, Marshall, Annett try each; McKinney 2 cons; Jackson con, 3 pens. Scotland: Gilmour try; Con: Edwards con; Weir 2 pens.

Ireland: T O'Halloran (Galwegians) (C Gilroy (Dungannon), 65); A Conway (Blackrock), B Macken (Blackrock), L Marshall (Ballymena), A Boyle (UCD); P Jackson (Dungannon) (J McKinney (Queens University), 76), K Marmion (University of Wales Institute Cardiff) (P Du Toit (UCD, 74); J Tracy (UCD), N Annett (Belfast Harlequins), T Furlong (Clontarf); M Kearney (Clontarf) (D Qualter (Buccaneers), 70), I Henderson (Queens University); E McKeon (Galwegians), D Gallagher (Dublin University) (D Doyle (UCD) 70), J Murphy (Lansdowne)( P Du Toit (UCD), 77).

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