Ireland edged out by France in fifth place semi-final

Wales and England spring shocks to set up all-northern hemisphere final

Ireland players dejected at the end of the game. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland players dejected at the end of the game. Photograph: Inpho


Ireland will battle it out with Australia for seventh place in the Junior World Championship on Sunday after a disappointing 9-8 loss in France last night in the fifth place semi-final.

Ireland scored the only try of the match but struggled to impose themselves in what was their poorest display so far in the tournament.

Ireland had a couple of late chances to win it with Rory Scannell off target with a 40 metre penalty two minutes from time at a cold and wet Stade Henri Desrange in La Roche-Sur-Yon last night.

France led 6-5 at the interval after a tense opening period where neither side managed to get on top for sustained periods.

It started poorly for Ireland with Darren Sweetnam receiving a yellow card after just 90 seconds after an awkward tackle on Francois Bouvier and scrum-half Baptiste Serin nailed the penalty from the left wing to give the hosts a perfect start.

But Ireland limited the damage to that penalty, taking the ball in tight and working the phases and by the time Sweetnam returned Mike Ruddock’s men were on the front foot.

Rory Scannell was narrowly off target with a penalty from the left after 14 minutes before Ireland suffered a double blow when both props were forced off through injury.

Tighthead Chris Taylor was the first to go after 23 minutes, with Edward Byrne coming on to join his twin brother Brian in the front row. Six minutes later loosehead Peter Dooley was stretchered off.

Ireland, though, responded well and hit the front six minutes from the break when Sweetnam did well to collect a crossfield kick from Steve Crosbie and after Ireland forced a five metre scrum, they got the shove on and No.8 Ryan Murphy touched down.

Scannell was unable to convert and France regained the lead just before the break when Serin made no mistake with a 30 metre penalty in front of the posts to make it 6-5 at the interval.

Ireland needed a good start to the second-half but conceded another penalty in front of their posts and Serin made no mistake from 30 metres to make it 9-5 after 47 minutes.

Ireland, with openside flanker Josh Van Der Flier superb, got back into contention after a sustained bout of pressure and France were penalised in the scrum for Scannell to slot a penalty from 25 metres and reduce the deficit to 9-8 with 15 minutes remaining.

But that was as near as they got. They piled on the pressure in the closing minutes but Scannell was off target with that late effort and Ireland will now need to regroup to play Australia on Sunday.

Meanwhile, England will meet Wales in the final of the IRB Junior World Championships on Sunday after they beat New Zealand and South Africa in the semi-finals.

The final will be the first between two teams from the Northern Hemisphere and guarantees a new name on the winner’s trophy.

Wales booked their place in a first-ever final with a narrow 18-17 victory over defending champions South Africa and they were joined in the final by England following their 33-21 win against New Zealand - their first over the Baby Blacks.

FRANCE: T Thomas; M Wieprecht, F Vialelle, F Bouvier, W Thomas; E Selponi, B Serin; C Baille, R Ruffenach, K Vartanov; P Jedrasiak, J Aliouat; Y Camara, F Cros, M Babillot. Replacements: J Heriteau for Vialelle (43), A Valette for Vartanov (56), L Bastien for Jedrasiak (63), S Parez for Wieprecht (67), R Hollet for Baille (78), A Placine for Babillot (78).

IRELAND: R Scholes (Ulster); D Sweetnam (Munster), T Farrell (Leinster), R Scannell (Munster), A Wootton (Northampton Saints); S Crosbie (Leinster), L McGrath (Leinster); P Dooley (Leinster), B Byrne (Leinster), C Taylor (Ulster); S McCarthy (Munster) J Donnan (Ulster); C Joyce (Ulster) J van der Flier (Leinster), R Murphy (Munster).
Replacements: A Boland (Connacht) for Taylor (23 mins), E Byrne (Leinster) for Dooley (29 mins), G McGuigan (Newcastle Falcons) for B Byrne (60 mins), P Timmins (Leinster) for Joyce (60 mins), D Shanahan (Leinster) for McGrath (67 mins), D Panter (Connacht) for Wootton (67 mins), M Roche (Connacht) for Farrell (72 mins).