Under-20s face showdown with All Blacks after win over Scotland
Ireland’s U20s World Cup team hang on to secure nerve-racking win in Italian heat
Flanker Conor Oliver scores Ireland U20s’ second try during their defeat of Scotland in the Pool C 2015 World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Italy. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho
The heat in northern Italy is enough of a struggle without Ireland putting everyone through heart-stopping moments but after two games played in the World Rugby U20 Championship, two wins have been achieved.
Ireland will now assess the damage from another energy-sapping encounter before taking on New Zealand in a pool decider in Viadana on Wednesday night. That game, at least, will kick off at 8.30pm instead of the 4.30pm starts they have had to endure in the heat.
“It is going to be a massive challenge. New Zealand are a great side but we have got fantastic players, we have players for the future,” Carolan said. “It’s a big challenge for them. But we have nothing to lose and if we are disciplined, then we can do something.
“We believe we are a good side and we have just got to learn to take our chances and then to be efficient in our exits in terms of restarts. Hopefully we can bring the momentum from the two wins into the game, but let’s just go for it.”
Saturday’s victory at Stadio San Michele was not as dramatic as the last-gasp win over Argentina on the opening day, but once again Ireland mixed the good with the bad and survived.
Garry Ringrose’s star continues to rise and he was again the key figure as Ireland recovered from a slow start to take control of the game and open up a 15-0 lead after 32 minutes.
Ireland were penned back on their own line in the opening minutes as Scotland went to the right corner with three penalties, but the defence was strong and Carolan’s men struck a telling psychological boost by holding the Scots at bay.
Ringrose’s class in midfield, ably supported by Sam Arnold, gave Ireland a strong base and Ringrose created the opening which led to Billy Dardis crossing after 12 minutes.
Joey Carbery, who landed a penalty prior to that, converted for a 15-3 interval lead and he extended it with another kick just after the restart.
But George Horne, brother of Scottish international Peter, landed his second penalty to give Scotland hope, and they continued to show great spirit.
Both sides were guilty of multiple knock-ons with the greasy ball in the very humid conditions, but the Scots were particularly guilty three times less than a metre from the Irish line. In fairness, there was nearly always an Irish body hanging out of them.
Scotland got their reward when Lewis Carmichael got over in the left corner, and Horne landed the difficult conversion to make it 18-13 and ensure a nervous finish for the Irish.
Carbery eased nerves with another penalty but Scotland still kept coming back. Tomás Quinlan, the hero against Argentina, wrapped it up with a late penalty, although there was still time for a consolation try for Scotland’s Ruaridh Knott.
IRELAND: B Dardis (UCD); C Gaffney (Galwegians), G Ringrose (UCD), S Arnold (Ballynahinch), S Fitzgerald (Shannon); J Carbery (UCD), N McCarthy, (UCD) (Capt); A Porter (UCD), S McNulty (UCD), O Heffernan (Terenure College); D O’Connor (St Mary’s College), A Thompson (Queen’s University Belfast); J Murphy (UCD), C Oliver (St Mary’s), L Dow (Queen’s University Belfast). Replacements: Z McCall (Queen’s University Belfast) for McNulty (52 mins), C O’Donnell (Sligo/NUIG) for Heffernan (52 mins), N Timoney (St Mary’s College) for Dow (52 mins), J Stockdale (Queen’s University Belfast) for Arnold (61 mins), J Dwan (UCD) for Thompson (63 mins), L O’Connor (Cork Constitution) for Porter (63) T Quinlan (Cork Constitution) for Carbery (67 mins), C Rock (Old Belvedere) for McCarthy (67 mins).
SCOTLAND: R Howarth; R Nairn, T Galbraith, P Kelly, A Coombes; B Kinghorn, G Horne; M McCallum, S James, Z Fagerson; S Cummings, L Carmichael; N Irvine-Hess, J Ritchie (Capt), M Bradbury. Replacements: R Knott for Ritchie (28 - 37, 40 mins), R Hutchinson for Bradbury (32 mins), D Elkington for McCallum (46 mins), R Graham for James (49), A Davidson for Horne (57 mins), B Vellacott for Cummings (57 mins), R Galloway for Galbraith (61 mins), J Owlett for Fagerson (78 mins).
Referee: Will Houston (Australia).