Wales Under-20 12 Ireland Under-20 40
A 10th successive victory in the Under-20 Six Nations Championship across three seasons and another impressive outing complete with a second successive bonus point sets up a mouth-watering tussle with England next Thursday; a clash between the only two unbeaten sides in the tournament.
The victory was underpinned by collective industry and quality but there were several standout performances in a dominant win, notably Ireland scrumhalf Nathan Doak. Quite simply he was superb in every aspect of the game and was ably supported by Alex Kendellen, Cathal Forde, Tim Corkery, Ronan Loughnane, Jack Boyle, Alex Soroka and Oisín McCormack.
To single out those players is not to devalue the contribution of the rest of the team, nor to overlook an excellent set piece and now and again, some neat back play. Wales will be very disappointed, one dimensional in orientation and they kicked away too much ball, which Ireland lapped up.
The most puzzling aspect of the opening 40-minutes was how Ireland weren’t further ahead as they dominated possession and pitch position, playing excellent rugby at times. Periodic passing glitches and to a lesser degree the odd errant decision cost the visitors at least a couple more tries. It was a shame because they deserved to have that buffer.
There was much to admire in Ireland’s ambition, the team superbly directed by scrumhalf Doak, who ensured a high tempo to his team’s patterns and his eye for space on the fringes caused huge problems for the visitors. There were one or two occasions when he overplayed his hand but it was a minor quibble.
Wales’ discipline, lineout and general kicking was substandard and their line led a charmed life. Ireland’s two tries were beautifully taken, the first from centre Forde on 13 minutes, the line and angle took him back against the grain of the defence from a five-metres scrum and he had the power to ride two attempted tackles to crash over.
Doak converted as he would do again on 24 minutes following a superb team try. Soroka, Forde and Boyle made prominent contributions, while Jamie Osborne attracted multiple defenders before he slipped a lovely pass to Chris Cosgrave, the latter popping up in midfield from the left wing, before gliding under the posts.
The Irish scrumhalf tagged on a penalty and then a minute after the interval he struck for a superb try. Fielding a box-kick from his opposite number, Doak brushed off a couple of tacklers, raced 30 metres, linked with Osborne and took the return pass to dot down in the corner.
At 22-0 and with three tries on board, Ireland should have been able to kick on but a series of sloppy mistakes invited Wales into the contest that pre-empted a try for flanker Alex Mann.
French referee Tual Trainini had made several baffling decisions and added to that tally in the build-up to Wales' second try from wing Carrick McDonough; the least surprising although it too was arguable, a yellow card brandished to Irish centre Shane Jennings prior to the try.
Both sides went to their respective benches and it was Ireland who derived the greater impetus and energy with replacement Daniel Okeke securing Ireland's fourth and bonus-point try on 68 minutes. There was still time for Irish captain Kendellen to top another outstanding performance with a try, the upshot of a well crafted rolling maul.
SCORING SEQUENCE – 13 mins: Forde try, Doak con, 0-7; 24: Cosgrave try, Doak con, 0-14; 28: Doak pen, 0-17. Half-time: 0-17. 41: Doak try, 0-22; 46: Mann try, 5-22; 56: Doak pen, 5-25; 59: McDonough try, Costelow con, 12-25; 62: Doak pen, 12-28; 68: Okeke try, 12-33; 78: Kendellen try, Doak con, 12-40.
WALES: J Beetham (Cardiff); D John (Exeter Chiefs), I Evans (Pontypridd), J Hawkins (Ospreys), C McDonough (Dragons); S Costelow (Scarlets), H Williams (Scarlets); G Phillips (Ospreys), E Daniel (Cardiff), N Evans (Cardiff); J Peard (Dragons), D Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs); A Mann (Cardiff, capt), H Deaves (Ospreys), C Tuipulotu (Scarlets).
Replacements: C Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs) for Peard (h-t); O Burrows (Exeter Chiefs) for Daniel (49 mins); E Lloyd (Cardiff) for Williams (53 mins); T Bevacqua (Cardiff) for Phillips, L Jones (Nevers) for Evans (both 56 mins); W Reed (Dragons) for Costelow (67 mins); E James (Scarlets) for Evans (74 mins).
Yellow card: C McDonough (67 mins).
IRELAND: J Osborne (Leinster); B Moxham (Ulster), S Jennings (Connacht), C Forde (Connacht), C Cosgrave (Leinster); T Corkery (Leinster), N Doak (Ulster); J Boyle (Leinster), R Loughnane (Leinster), M Donnelly (Munster); A Soroka (Leinster), H Sheridan (Ulster); D Byrne (Connacht), O McCormack (Connacht), A Kendellen (Munster, capt).
Replacements: G Saunderson (Ulster) for Boyle, S Illo (Leinster) for Donnelly (both 63 mins); J Postlethwaite (Ulster) for Cosgrave (65 mins); D Okeke (Munster) for Byrne (66 mins); M Morrissey (Leinster) for Soroka (67 mins); E de Buitléar (Connacht) for Loughnan (70 mins); B Carson (Ulster) for Corkery (72 mins); C Rankin (Ulster) for Moxham (73 mins).
Referee: Tual Trainini (France)
Yellow card: S Jennings ( 58 mins).