U20 Six Nations: Clinical Wales quick to capitalise on Irish mistakes

Home side will be suitably frustrated following an error-strewn performance

Ireland Under-20s 24 Wales Under 20s 35

This defeat will smart, Ireland left to reflect on the number of points, 21 or thereabouts, that they largely gifted to a powerful Wales side. The visitors ultimately deserved their victory because they were more ruthless in taking opportunities.

In Dan Jones, Wales possessed the outstanding player on the pitch, one who ran the game intelligently, varying the point of attack, while his kicking from the tee was all but exemplary. The Welsh pack ran straight and hard and even if they were given a certain latitude at ruck time, they played the referee.

The French official Thomas Charabas didn’t have the best night, missing a plethora of no-arm tackles and other transgressions.

But Ireland didn’t make Wales work hard enough for their scores and that ultimately cost them. Some aspects of the home side’s performance were excellent. There were some fine individual performances, coupled with slick offloading out of the tackle.


The debit side of the ledger through contained far too much sloppy play.

Curate’s egg

The home side were good in spots during the first half. They scored one superb try, through Cillian Gallagher, and some of the running lines and offloading were of a high calibre but too often they were undone by poor execution.

Ireland’s exit strategies from their 22 and line kicking in general were substandard and in the opening half the repeated failures to find touch cost them 13 points. Time and again Wales fullback Rhun Williams received poorly directed, hoofed clearances. His excellent footwork invariably took him past the first tackler and from there Wales gained a foothold in the Irish 22.

The visitors came away with points on each occasion through tries from livewire hooker Dafydd Hughes and powerful secondrow, Adam Beard. Outhalf Dan Jones contributed the remaining points from the kicking tee.

Ireland hooker Adam McBurney poached three balls at the breakdown – one brilliant break and offload in the build-up to his side's second try – captain James Ryan was wonderfully athletic in the loose while Will Connors' ability to get his hands through the tackle pre-empted his side's best attacking moments.

The home side led 8-0 inside three minutes through a penalty from Johnny McPhillips and then the outhalf’s gorgeous cross-kick to Shane Daly, saw the latter put his centre partner Jimmy O’Brien away with an inside pass. He was grounded just short but Gallagher slid onto the loose ball, scooping it up and dotting down in one movement.

Ireland though invited Wales back into the same with a series of errors, half blocked down kicks, too slow to clear ball from rucks, laboured passing and lateral running; it gave Wales position and possession they fully availed of.

And Ireland gifted the visitors a try 60 seconds after the restart, Jones intercepting Poland’s pass inside the Irish 22.

The home side responded through a try from replacement Kelvin Brown but no sooner had they threatened a revival at 25-19, when they gifted Wales another 10-points.

Peter Claffey’s yellow card was ridiculously harsh but there were a clatter of missed tackles for Welsh centre Harri Millard’s try. Trailing by 16 points, the home side fought on with Daly crossing in the corner after good hands from O’Brien.

IRELAND UNDER-20: J Power (Leinster); M Byrne (Leinster), S Daly (Munster), J O'Brien (Leinster), H Keen (Leinster); J McPhillips (Ulster), J Poland (Munster); A Porter (Leinster), A McBurney (Ulster), C O'Donnell (Connacht); P Claffey (Connacht), J Ryan (Leinster, capt); C Gallagher (Connacht), W Connors (Leinster), M Deegan (Leinster). Replacements: K Brown (Munster) for Deegan 20-28 mins; Brown for Connors halftime; C Kenny (Connacht) for O'Donnell 61 mins; C O'Brien (Leinster) for McPhillips 68 mins; S O'Connor (Munster) for Claffey 68 mins; S Fenton (Munster) for McBurney 75 mins; S Kerins (Connacht) for Poland 77 mins; J Bollard (Leinster) for Porter 78 mins; B Connon (Newcastle Falcons) for Power 78 mins. Yellow card: P Claffey (56).

WALES UNDER-20: R Williams; Elis-Wyn Benham, H Millard, O Watkin, K Giles; D Jones, D Smith; C Domachowski, D Hughes, D Lewis; S Lewis-Hughes, A Beard; T Phillips (capt), S Evans, H Keddie. Replacements: R Morgan-Williams for Smith 52 mins; J Thomas for Giles 60 mins; J Evans for Jones 66 mins; L Brown, for Lewis 75 mins; M Sieniawski for Keddie 75 mins; B Morgan for Benham 77 mins; R Lewis for Domachowski 78 mins. Yellow card: A Beard (76 mins).

Referee: T Charabas (France).

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer