Impressive Ireland finish on a high

 

UNDER-20 WORLD CUP Ireland 18 France 7:IRELAND CREATED history in ensuring a best ever finish in the IRB Under-20 World Championship. Yesterday’s victory at the Newlands stadium in Cape Town guaranteed them fifth place in the tournament, the least they deserved for their performances.

Ireland’s only defeat in the tournament came against England, a side that had deprived them of a Grand Slam during the Six Nations Championship and the only team to beat Mike Ruddock’s men this year. The Irish side avenged a pool defeat that cost them a place in the semi-finals, by beating England in the knock-out phase of the tournament.

They have produced some memorable displays not least their victory over the baby Springboks in the opening match of the tournament. Having beaten France 13-12 at Stade des Alpes during the Six Nations, they once again delivered a hard-nosed display.

In an error-strewn match they were by far the more disciplined side and outhalf JJ Hanrahan, shortlisted for World U-20 Player of the Year, kicked six penalties from nine attempts. The only minor cavil was that the winners didn’t convert two or three good try-scoring chances.

The dominated the scrum and the breakdown; the lineout was the only area in which they were eclipsed. France will reflect on a 16-4 penalty count that went against them and also the yellow card received by prop Jefferson Poirot for a punch. They did score the only try of the game from centre Gael Fickou, converted by Enzio Selponi.

Ireland brought virtues that have been synonymous with their performances in this tournament, abrasive tackling – wing Barry Daly forced two great turnovers in the tackle – and unrelenting commitment. A tad more precision and they could have embellished the win with tries.

Jack Conan and Tadhg Furlong stood out in a marvellous effort from the pack, while Chris Farrell invariably gave his forwards a target going forward; everyone contributed to the victory.

Ireland captain Niall Scannell said: “I am so proud of the lads. We’ve had a few disappointments in terms of the Six Nations where we should have won a Grand Slam and if things had gone a bit differently in the pool stages we could have been contesting a semi-final. But the lads stuck at it and they deserve everything they got.”

Scoring sequence 27 mins: Hanrahan penalty, 3-0; 32 Hanrahan penalty, 6-0. Half-time: 6-0. 42 Hanrahan penalty, 9-0; 48 Hanrahan penalty, 12-0; 59 Hanrahan penalty, 15-0; 66 Fickou try, Selponi conversion, 15-7; 77 Hanrahan penalty, 18-7.

IRELAND: P Nelson (Ulster); B Daly (Leinster), S Olding (Ulster), C Farrell (Ulster), F Horan (Leinster); JJ Hanrahan (Munster), K Marmion (Connacht); D Merrey (Leinster), N Scannell (Munster, capt), T Furlong (Leinster); A O’Connor (Leinster), T Beirne (Leinster); I Henderson (Ulster), J Coghlan (Leinster), J Conan (Leinster). Replacements: L McGrath (Leinster) for Marmion (55 mins), A Conneely (Connacht) for Coghlan (70), C Finn (Connacht) for Daly (73), J Rael (Munster) for Scannell, J Cawley (Leinster) for Merrey (78 mins), S Buckley (Munster) for Henderson (78 mins), J Carty (Connacht) for Olding (78 mins).

FRANCE: T Platon; V Martin, J Danty, G Fickou, B Fuster; T Laranjeira, E Escande; J Poirot, Jean-Charles Fidinde, P Cotet; P Gayraud, P Jedrasiak; J Kazubek, K Galletier, K Chateau (capt). Replacements: J Yobo for Danty (21 mins), A Derrien for Galletier (24 mins), J Aliouat for Fidinde (31 mins), R Carbou for Jedrasiak (50 mins), E Selponi for Laranjeira (51 mins), JB Custoja for Cotet (61 mins), K Vartanov for Poirot (70 mins).

Yellow card: Poirot (48 mins).

Referee: Francisco Pastrana(Argentina).

JWC FINAL: Baby Boks end All Blacks’ reign

New Zealand’s dominance of the Junior World Cup was ended yesterday evening when second- half tries from scrumhalf Vian van der Watt and centre Jan Serfontein secured a 22-16 win for South Africa in front of a sold-out Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.

It means Ireland were the only side to defeat the new world champions in the tournament, with South Africa losing their opening Pool B match 23-19 to Mike Ruddock’s Irish side.

New Zealand have claimed the previous four Junior World Cup titles, and so Rob Penney – the new Munster head coach – is the first boss to have coached a losing All Blacks side at this level.

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