Brave Ireland fall short against impressive Baby Blacks
Nigel Carolan’s side see plenty of ball but New Zealand defence proves impentrable
Roy Moloney tries to shackle New Zealand’s Tevita Li during Ireland’s 25-3 loss. Photograph: Inpho
New Zealand 25 Ireland 3
They gave it everything they had and there was no shame in the loss but like countless Irish teams before them beating New Zealand was too big a task for this U-20 side.
In the end there were 22 points between them, the same margin as this time last year when they were battling for third place in New Zealand. Some things never change.
Ireland competed well for over half an hour but then New Zealand took over and buried them with a level of handling and sheer strength which they could not managed to contain.
It was a fifth defeat in this tournament against New Zealand and another one to add the seemingly endless list of losses to the Kiwis.
Ireland will now turn their attention to the battle for fifth place which will begin with a semi-final clash on Monday.
New Zealand, who won every match in capturing the first four world titles, will now bid to win it for the first time since lifting the crown here in Italy four years ago and they might well push on and do that.
Ireland were still in with a shout when they trailed by 11-3 at the break, although the concession of a 35-metre penalty on the stroke of half-time was painful, after loosehead Andrew Porter was pinged for kicking the ball out of the hands of scrum-half Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.
It showed once again just how clinical New Zealand are at punishing teams when given a chance.
In contrast, Ireland’s bright start yielded just one penalty from three, with Joey Carbery getting them off the mark after 16 minutes.
By then he had seen a 45-metre effort from the left drop just short while a kick from the Auckland-born out-half from the right missed the target.
Ringrose set the tone with a superb tackle on New Zealand full-back Luteru Laulala, a brother of former Munster centre Casey, with had the sizeable Irish crowd in good voice.
But, as New Zealand showed against Argentina, they know how to turn the screw if given an opening and they struck after 19 minutes with only their second attack of the night, with a wide pass from out-half Otere Black finishing off a stretched Irish defence for Tevita Li to score in the left corner, with Ireland full-back Billy Darfis claiming he was impeded by Nathaniel Apa.
New Zealand, with gigantic No.8 Akira Ioane making his presence felt all over the field, got more of the possession and they extended their lead to 8-3 after half an hour when Black tapped over a penalty after Josh Murphy was penalised for not binding in a scrum.
Ireland lost captain Nick McCarthy to a shoulder injury five minutes before the break with Charlie Rock, who made his U-20 debut against Argentina last week, coming on.
Trailing by 11-3 at the break, Irish hopes were extinguished in the opening minutes of the second-half as New Zealand went for the kill and hit for two tries.
New Zealand went to the corner with a penalty just outside the 22 and were rewarded for the decision, going wide to the left and when they came back inside Li burst through Murphy’s tackle to score under the posts. Black converted to make it 18-3 and the game was gone from Ireland two minutes later when they were scrummaged off their own five-metre put-in and Blake Gibson scored in the left corner.
Black converted to make it 25-3 and it suddenly became a damage limitation exercise from there.
In fairness, Ireland never gave up and Murphy came close to scoring but was denied by a combination of Gibson and Tahuriorangi as Ireland finally got some ball going forward.
New Zealand kept their line intact but so too did Ireland when the Baby Blacks countered and spent the final period of the game attacking the Irish line.
Scorers: New Zealand: T Li (2), B Gibson tries, O Black 2 pens, 2 cons. Ireland: J Carbery pen
Ireland: B Dardis (UCD); J Owens (QUB), G Ringrose (UCD), S Arnold (Ballynahinch), J Stockdale (QUB); J Carbery (UCD), N McCarthy (UCD) (capt); A Porter (UCD), S McNulty (UCD), O Heffernan (Terenure College); D O’Connor (St Mary’s), A Thompson (QUB); J Murphy (UCD), R Moloney (Buccs), L Dow (QUB).
Replacements used: L O’Connor (Cork Con) for Porter (10-18 blood & 66 mins), C Rock (Old Belvedere) for McCarthy (35 mins), T Quinlan (Cork Con) for Dardis (48 mins), C O’Donnell (Sligo/NUIG) for Heffernan (52 mins), C Romaine (Buccs) for Thompson (60 mins), S McVeigh (Buccs) for Dow (60 mins), A McBurney (Ballymena) for McNulty (66 mins), F Cleary (Lansdowne) for Arnold (71 mins).
Replacements: R Riccitelli for Polwart (52 mins), T Koloamatangi for Moli (52 mins), M Hunt for Laulala (55 mins), H Stowers for Ioane (59 mins), A Ross for Tu’ungafasi (66 mins), H Levien for Tahuriorangi (66 mins), TJ Faiane for Jack Goodhue (66 mins), M Dunshea for Joshua Goodhue (66 mins).
Referee: Matthew Carley (England).