Ireland took a two point lead into the second half but New Zealand pulled away in the second with 24 unanswered points as Ireland run out of steam at the end of a long tournament.
New Zealand (21) 45
TRY: Tevita Li (2), Richard Mo’unga (2), James Tucker, Mitchell Drummond, Lachlan Boshier
CON: Damian McKenzie (5)
Ireland (23) 23
TRY: Penalty Try, Oisin Heffernan
CON: Ross Byrne (2)
PEN: Ross Byrne (3)
Ireland looked the better organised side in the first half but New Zealand were always dangerous playing off scraps. As it was, New Zealand’s livewire winger Tevita Li was the first to cross as New Zealand broke out following early Irish pressure. Damian McKenzie added the extras but Ross Byrne replied with two quick penalties to take the score to 7 – 6 as the game went into the second quarter.
New Zealand went further ahead at the start of the second quarter, through a Richard Mo’unga converted try, but Ireland hit back almost immediately as their pressure yielded a penalty try, converted by Byrne, and five minutes later New Zealand’s James Tucker was yellow carded. Byrne’s penalty put Ireland in front 14 – 16 but the scores came thick and fast in an eventful second quarter.
Li grabbed his second try, converted by McKenzie, on the half hour mark but Ireland finished the half 21 – 23 in front with Oisin Heffernan hitting the try line for Byrne to convert.
The second half, which saw Cian Kelleher receive his second yellow card of the tournament, was all New Zealand. Tucker, Mitchell Drummond, Mo’unga and Lachlan Boshier all crossed without reply and with McKenzie adding two conversions the home side wrapped up the game 45 – 23.
A disappointing end for Ireland but they will still be able to look back on the tournament with some pride having recorded Ireland highest finish in the tournament to date.
IRELAND U20: Cian Kelleher, Ciaran Gaffney, Harrison Brewer, Alex Wootton, Ross Byrne, Nick McCarthy, Peter Dooley, Dylan Donnellan, Oisin Heffernan, Darragh Moloney, Ross Molony, Peadar Timmins, Rory Moloney, Frankie Taggart. Replacements: Max Abbott, Denis Coulson, Rory Burke, Stephen Gardiner, Josh Murphy, Ryan Foley, Conor McKeon, Dan Goggin.