IRELAND U20’s secured a first ever top four finish with a 38 -0 win against Fiji in the 2014 Junior World Championship in New Zealand.
We’d predicted either a top four or a bottom four finish for the Irish, so tight was this group, and they left themselves with a lot of work to do after their narrow opening day loss to France. In fairness the youngsters have shown great determination to scrap their way back into contention with a bonus point win against Wales and this win against Fiji.
Didn’t manage to see this game either, well to tell the truth with no Ulster players in the starting XV I’d lost a fair bit of interest and a 2:30am start didn’t appeal to me, but by all accounts Ireland made heavy work of this one in rain soaked conditions in Auckland.
With most of this team playing their third game in 8 days there was no doubt that Ireland looked a touch jaded in a dreary first half. However they were well on top in the scrums and they certainly made that dominance count with two penalty tries, to add to an early penalty, giving Ireland a 17 – 0 lead at the break after Fiji had three players sent to the bin.
Ulster’s Frank Taggart came on and made some impact at the start of the second half before Ciaran Gaffney crossed for Ireland third converted try on the 49th minute.
A tense 20 minutes ensued before Ireland booked their place in the top four with their third penalty try on the 68th minute and they managed to finish off on some style when replacement out half Conor McKeon linked with Garry Ringrose to score try number five giving Ireland a 38 – 0 win.
Still a few games being played but it looks as though a semi final against England at the QBE Stadium, Auckland on Sunday 15th June, will be Ireland’s reward!
A lot of bruised bodies to be repaired before that.
Ireland U20: Peter Dooley, Max Abbott, Rory Burke, Stephen Gardiner, Ross Molony, Josh Murphy, Rory Moloney, Jack O’Donoghue (C), Ryan Foley, Ross Byrne, Alex Wootton, Dan Goggin, Garry Ringrose, Ciaran Gaffney, Cian Kelleher. Replacements: Dylan Donnellan, Denis Coulson, Oisin Heffernan, Darragh Moloney, Frank Taggart, Nick McCarthy, Conor McKeon, Harrison Brewer.