Wales U20 (20) 35
TRY: Dafydd Hughes, Adam Beard, Dan Jones, Harri Millard. CON: Dan Jones (3). PEN: Dan Jones (3)
Ireland U20’s lost out to their Welsh counterparts by 24 – 35 in an entertaining encounter at Donnybrook last night.
Ireland’s tries came from Cillian Gallagher, Kelvin Brown and Shane Daly with Johnny McPhillips adding three penalties, however, with Wales edging the breakdown and the collisions the visitors proved too powerful and composed for the home side.
Ireland got off to the best of starts with a penalty award straight from the kick off. McPhillips duly slotted it over and within minutes the Ulster out half was again on target with a well executed cross field kick to centre Jimmy O’Brien, who was hauled down just short of the try line. However a good follow up by Cillian Gallagher saw the Connacht flanker retrieve the ball and touch down for the opening score. The conversion was missed but Ireland led 8 – 0.
McPhillips was in action again shortly after, however, this time it was a sliced clearance kick that led to a penalty to Wales that was duly converted by Dan Jones to pull the score to 3 – 8. The Welsh began to get on top up front and the first quarter ended with their forwards camped in the Ireland 22 with a 5m lineout.
The resulting maul was driven back at some pace by Ireland but the impressive Welsh captain Harrison Keddie recovered well to drive the ball infield and, after a few darts at the Ireland line, Welsh hooker Dafydd Hughes was on hand to touch down. The conversion from Jones pushed Wales into an 8 – 10 lead.
Ireland struggled to maintain possession with Wales continuing to edge the breakdown but an interchange between John Poland, McPhillips, O’Brien and Gallagher ended with the Welsh giving away a somewhat cynical penalty in their own 22. McPhillips slotted it over and Ireland were back in front at 11 – 10.
The lead didn’t last long as Ireland continued to be the authors of their own misfortune, this time sloppy line out distribution from Ireland giving the Welsh another penalty which Jones slotted over to restore their two point lead as half time approached. However a rumble by James Ryan, Polland and Will Connors led to another penalty with McPhillips restoring Ireland’s lead to 14 -13.
Wales countered by battering the Irish line, following some poor clearance work from Ireland, and they rounded off the half in some style when Adam Beard ran a fine line to slice through the Ireland defence for a converted try that gave the visitors a 14 – 20 lead at the break.
Ireland’s lack of composure in their own 22 continued after the break when a loose pass was intercepted by Dan Jones who ran it in from 15 yards out to push the score to 14 – 25. To their credit the Ireland forwards responded well and Adam McBurney, Polland and McPhillips combined to win a penalty in the Welsh half. The kick to the corner was rewarded with a textbook maul with replacement Kelvin Brown claiming the try which remained unconverted.
At 19 – 25 Ireland were still well in the hunt but a harsh decision by the referee to bin Peter Claffey, after the Welsh out half ran into him, gave the Welsh a decisive edge and they duly took advantage with another penalty followed by a try , from Harri Millard, to take the score to 19 – 35 as the game went into the final quarter.
Ireland worked hard to reduce the lead and the pressure eventually told with Adam Beard carded with minutes remaining. A good period of pressure by Ireland was rewarded when Shane Daly crossed with the last play of the game to give a final score of Ireland 24 Wales 35.
Ireland U20: Jack Power, Matthew Byrne, Shane Daly, Jimmy O’Brien, Hugo Keenan, Johnny McPhillips, John Poland, Andrew Porter, Adam McBurney, Conan O’Donnell, Peter Claffey, James Ryan, Cillian Gallagher, Will Connors, Max Deegan. Replacements: Shane Fenton, James Bollard, Conor Kenny, Sean O’Connor, Kelvin Brown, Stephen Kerins, Brett Connon, Conor O’Brien.