Ireland U20’s went seven games undefeated in this U20 Six Nations following a bonus point 36 – 22 win against Wales at Irish Independent Park on Friday night.
In a game dominated by a strong wind, Ireland picked up a bonus point by the break as they rushed to a 31 – 7 lead at half time
Wales, with the wind behind them, started to hit back in the second half but a 63rd minute try from the lively Andrew Smith kept Ireland far enough in front to close out the game fairly comfortably for a 36 – 22 win.
IRELAND (31) 36
TRY: Mark Hernan (2), Dan Kelly, Lewis Finlay, Andrew Smith
CON: Jack Crowley (4)
PEN: Jack Crowley.
WALES (7) 22
TRY: Osian Knott (2), Penalty Try
CON: Sam Costelow
PEN: Sam Costelow
LATE TEAM CHANGE – Ulster’s Hayden Hyde dropped out of the team due to illness with Luis Faria promoted from the bench. Ballynahinch’s Conor Rankin is brought into the squad.
The game was dominated by a strong wind blowing down the pitch in Ireland’s favour. The home side took immediate advantage of the conditions placing the kick off straight into the Welsh 22 for a defensive lineout.
The visitors attempt to clear from the line out was charged down by Mark Hernan who chased the ball down for the opening try. Jack Crowley converted to give Ireland a 7 – 0 lead in the first minute.
Wales spent the next 10 minutes trying to work their way towards the Irish line but Ireland pinned them back into the corner towards the end of the first quarter and, after a couple of dabs at the line, a well timed run by Dan Kelly saw the centre crash over for Ireland’s second score for Crowley to convert.
Five minutes later, a break from deep by Smith, and a careless kick from the Welsh defence, saw Lewis Finlay slide home under the posts for Ireland’s third. Crowley knocked over the extras to give Ireland a 21 – 0 lead after 23 minutes.
With the strong wind in mind Crowley knocked over a 31st minute penalty as they looked to build up as big a lead as possible before the break. However Wales gave themselves a glimmer of a chance when a dropped ball in the middle of the park was kicked through for Osian Knott to win the race to touch down. Ireland somewhat fortunate to avoid a penalty try and yellow card when Sam Costello was brought down as he looked to score. Costello did get his name on the score sheet with the conversion to take the score to 24 – 7.
Ireland immediately pinned Wales back in their 22 and Hernan topped and tailed the try scoring in the first half claiming the touch down at the back of a rapidly advancing line out maul. Crowley knocked it over to take the score to 31 – 7 in Ireland’s favour at the break.
Wales set about their task with some authority at the start of the second half, Costello knocked over a penalty before they were awarded a penalty try when a lineout maul was brought down by Ireland. Yellow card for Ireland’s Joe McCarthy as the score moved to 31 – 17 on the 48th minute.
The Welsh weren’t able to take advantage of their extra man and Ireland were able to make the game safe when a line out overthrow was returned by Tom Stewart for Smith to go over in the corner after a couple of phases. The conversion was missed but Ireland looked home and hosed with the score at 36 – 17.
Knott went over for his second try six minutes later giving the visitors a sniff of a chance for at least a try bonus point, but the game had lost it’s impetus and Ireland were able to close it out for their second five point win in this season’s competition.
Final score: Ireland U20 36 Wales U20 22
IRELAND U20: Oran McNulty, Ben Moxham, Dan Kelly, Luis Faria, Andrew Smith, Jack Crowley, Lewis Finlay, Marcus Hanan, Tom Stewart, Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Ahern, Brian Deeny, Sean O’Brien, Mark Hernan, David McCann. Replacements used: Joe McCarthy , Charlie Ward, Cian Prendergast, John McKee, Ben Murphy, Harry Noonan, Tim Corkery, Conor Rankin.
WALES U20: Ioan Lloyd, Daniel John, Osian Knott, Aneurin Owen, Ewan Rosser, Sam Costelow, Dafydd Buckland, Theo Bevacqua, Will Griffiths, Ben Warren, Jac Price, Ben Carter, Ioan Davies, Jac Morgan, Morgan Strong. Replacements used: Ellis Bevan, James Fender, Bradley Roderick, Dom Booth, Callum Williams, Josh Thomas, Archie Griffin, Gwilym Bradley.