Australia 45 Ireland 17
An occasionally inspiring performance from a 14-man Ireland finally ran out of steam in a four-minute spell against Australia in the second half of their second match in the Under 20 Rugby World Cup in Santa Fe, Argentina.
Australia take control of Pool B while Ireland meet Italy on Wednesday in their final pool game.
Ireland played for an hour a man down after Ryan Baird's high tackle on Australian outhalf Will Harrison on 21 minutes drew a red card. The Irish lock instantly knew he had committed the foul and put his hands on his head in despair as English referee Christophe Ridley meticulously went through the replays.
In the end there was no mitigation and the impact was high to the neck area and Baird walked.
While Ireland showed character and bounced back with high intensity play to take a 17-10 lead in the second half, tiredness and concentration undid them in a four-minute barrage between 63 minutes and 67 minutes, where Australia ran in three unanswered tries to wrap up the match.
Australia moved from 10-17 down to 31-17 ahead and the game was done. Two more tries in the six-try win put a gloss on the scoreline but by then the game was convincingly in the Wallabies’ lap.
Ireland's initial scrum problem gifted Australia an early penalty, Harrison kicking his team into an early 3-0 lead after four minutes. In a lively opening full of incident Australian winger Semisi Tupou's high tackle earned him a yellow card just seconds before Ronan Watters was replaced by Ciarán Booth, the flanker going off for a HIA.
With Australia down to 14 men Ireland expected to take charge but just five minutes later, and with Tupou still in the sin bin, Baird’s tackle took him out of the game.
Australia quickly took advantage with Sione Tui counterattacking from a botched Irish kick and chase to touchdown on 24 minutes, Harrison converting for 10-0. But far from hanging their heads Irish grit kicked in and the final minutes of the half was Ireland taking the game to Australia.
It was Craig Casey on 36 minutes, who darted from an Irish scrum five yards out. The Australian defence appeared to hold up the ball but Ridley gave it with Jake Flannery converting, Ireland closing the half 10-7 down and still very much in the match.
Flannery kicked for 10-10 on 55 minutes before Stewart Moore's solo run and dummy pass outside earned Ireland their second try. It was just reward for hard work and an unlikely 17-10 lead for Ireland. But there would be consequences for the heavy work load and the lead lasted just six minutes before Isaac Lucas, Mark Nawaqanitawase and replacement lock Nick Frost ripped into the Irish defence.
Harrison scored and converted another on 77 minutes and Frost again was over in the dying seconds, Ireland out on their feet and their chances of making a semi-final much thinner.
SCORING SEQUENCE – 4 mins: W Harrison pen 3-0; 24: S Tui try, Harrison con 10-0; 36: C Casey try, J Flannery con 10-7. Halftime. 55: J Flannery pen 10-10; 57: S Moore try, B Healy con 10-17; 63: I Lucas try, Harrison con 17-17; 65: Nawaqanitawase, Harrison con 24-17; 67: N Frost try, Harrison con 31-17; 76: W Harrison try, Harrison con 38-17; 78: N Frost try, Harrison con 45-17.
AUSTRALIA: Isaac Lucas; Sione Tui, Semisi Tupou, Noah Lolesio, Mark Nawaqanitawase; Will Harrison, Michael McDonald; Angus Bell, Lachlan Lonergan, Josh Nasser; Michael Wood, Trevor Hosea; Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight (capt), Will Harris.
Replacements: Nick Frost for Wood (55 mins), Pat Tafa for Harris (71 mins), Esei Ha'angana for Hosea (72 mins), Rhys van Nek for Lonergan, Joey Walton for Lolesto, Kye Oates for Tupou, Carlo Tizzano for McReight (all 77 mins). Not used: Joe Cotton , Bo Abra , Darcy Breen , Henry Robertson , Ben Donaldson.
IRELAND: Rob Russell (Dublin University); Angus Kernohan (Queen's University), Liam Turner (Dublin University), Stewart Moore (Malone), Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution); Jake Flannery (Shannon), Craig Casey (Shannon); Josh Wycherley (Young Munster), Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians), Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University); Charlie Ryan (UCD, capt), Ryan Baird (Dublin University); David McCann (Banbridge), Ronan Watters (St Mary's College), John Hodnett (UCC).
Replacements: Ciarán Booth (Sale Sharks) for Watters (17 mins), Ben Healy (Garryowen) for Russell, Michael Milne (UCD) for Wycherley (both 55), John McKee (Old Belvedere) for Tierney-Martin, Colm Reilly (Buccaneers) for Casey (both 59), Niall Murray (Buccaneers) for Hodnett, Cormac Foley (St Mary's College) for Moore (both 63), Declan Adamson (Clontarf) for Wren (71). Not used: Charlie Ward (Clontarf), Thomas Ahern (Shannon),
Red card: Baird (21 mins).
Referee: Christophe Ridley (England).