Ireland U20’s qualified as second seeds in the knockout stages of the 2016 World Rugby U20 Championship with a 35 – 7 win against Georgia on Wednesday afternoon at Manchester City Academy Stadium. The team extended their winning run to six matches in the process, including their three wins in the Six Nations.
Ireland (20) 35
TRY: Hugo Keenan, Johnny McPhillips, Terry Kennedy, Andrew Porter.
CON: Johnny McPhillips (2), Brett Connon.
PEN: Johnny McPhillips (3).
Georgia (7) 7
TRY: Vasil Lobzhanidze.
CON: Davit Modzgvrishvili.
Despite the convincing scoreline this was another hard work out for the Irish youngsters with Georgia proving to be their toughest opponents, to date, in the scrum.
In fact it was the Georgians who took an early lead when scrum half Vasil Lobzhanidze wrong footed the defence with an outrageous dummy and sprinted for the line for the opening score. Davit Modzgvrishvili knocked over the conversion and Ireland found themselves seven points down after five minutes.
However it was 7 – 7 three minutes later when Hugo Keenan sprinted clear down the left after quick hands from Johnny McPhillips and Terry Kennedy. McPhillips added the extras to level the score and Ireland received a second boost when Georgia’s Spanderashvili was red carded after a fairly innocuous looking scuffle with Greg Jones.
The doughty Georgians still provided plenty of resistance, but McPhillps kept the scoreboard ticking over with two well struck penalties, taking the score to 13 – 7, before the Ulster out half jinked through the defence for Ireland’s second try on the 35th minute. McPhillips converted his own try and Ireland took a 20 – 7 lead into the break.
Ireland still had to work hard in the second half but the game was won by the end of the third quarter after McPhillips converted his third penalty and Kennedy finished off another flowing move from the Irish backs. McPhillips’ conversion hit the upright but with Ireland leading 28 – 7 the game was won and Ireland were in the final four, the only question being in what place?
The youngster’s guaranteed themselves a top two finish when replacement Andrew Porter crossed in the dying minutes, for the bonus point try, after a relentless bombardment of the Georgian line. Brett Connon converted to give Ireland the 35 – 7 win.
Ireland U20: Brett Connon, Terry Kennedy, Jimmy O’Brien, Paul Kiernan, Hugo Keenan, Johnny McPhillips, Niall Saunders, James Bollard, Vincent O’Brien, Vakh Abdaladze, Evan Mintern, Sean O’Connor, Greg Jones, Conall Boomer, Kelvin Brown. Replacements: Adam McBurney, Andrew Porter, Adam Coyle, Cillian Gallagher, Max Deegan, Stephen Kerins, Shane Daly, Jacob Stockdale.