World U20 Championship: Ireland far too hot for Argentina as they make final
Nigel Carolan’s side will face hosts England in Saturday’s decider in Manchester
Ireland U20 fullback Jacob Stockdale scores the first try of the World Rugby U20 Championship semi-final against Argentina at Manchester City Academy Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Ireland players celebreate after beating Argentina in the World Rugby U20 Championship semi-final at Manchester City Academy Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Ireland 37 Argentina 7
The weekend might not have yielded much success for Irish sportsmen on many fronts but the Monday blues were buried by a team which just keeps improving every time they take the field.
This devastating win over an Argentine team who were unable to match them in the set-piece, the breakdown or open play, was the seventh in a row by Nigel Carolan’s men since recovering from losing their opening two games in the Six Nations.
Now, they just need one more huge performance against England and they will be crowned World Rugby U20 Championship winners at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday evening (7.0) after the tournament hosts defeated South Africa 39-17 in the second semi-final on Monday night.
Carolan thinks they can produce that big display after destroying an Argentine side who also went into this semi-final with three straight wins.
“We needed to be good today and I thought we were superb. Even when we were 20 points up at half-time, the result of the senior game from Saturday was ringing in my ears.
“You can’t sit back and relax. But great performance right through both from attack and defence. We even left some scores out there today. Top marks to all of the boys today, I thought they were superb,” said Carolan.
His men, notoriously slow starters all season, were 21-0 in front after 29 minutes but there were some jitters when Argentina crossed just before the break.
“It was probably no harm for us that they did score, it kept us grounded. It meant at half-time that we had to focus on the things that we were doing well and keep that going for the second half,” added Carolan.
With skipper James Ryan leading the onslaught, they led from the outset and were never troubled.
A superb start by Ireland saw them lead by 21-7 at the break after taking the game to Argentina from the outset.
And they got a superb start when fullback Jacob Stockdale got over for a try after eight minutes after an excellent crosskick from outhalf Johnny McPhillips.
Ireland doubled their lead after 23 minutes when number eight Max Deegan intercepted a pass on his 22 and had the legs to go all the way and score in the left corner.
And Carolan’s men turned the screw just before the half-hour mark in a superb backline movement where both wingers Matthew Byrne and Hugo Keenan were involved to send Ulster’s Stockdale away for his second try, with McPhillips kicking his third conversion.
But Ireland were given a glimpse of the cutting edge which saw Argentina also win all three pool games when outhalf Domingo Miotti put his captain Juan Cruz Mallia over a minute from the break for a converted try which left it 21-7 at the break.
It was crucial that Ireland got the next score and McPhillips duly extended the lead with a penalty from 30 metres after 52 minutes to make it 24-7.
English referee Craig Maxwell-Keys gave Santiago Pulella a straight red when he head-butted Seán O’Connor at a maul in the 72nd minute, and Argentina knew the game was up.
It was a great way to round off a superb occasion when Ireland took a huge step forward in their quest for overdue silverware.
SCORERS – Ireland: J Stockdale 2 tries, M Deegan, S Daly try each; J McPhillips 3 cons, B Connon con; J McPhillips 3 pens. Argentina: J Cruz Mallia try; D Miotti con.
IRELAND: J Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); M Byrne (Terenure College/Leinster), S Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster), C O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster), H Keenan (UCD/Leinster); J McPhillips (Queen’s University/Ulster), S Kerins (Sligo/Connacht); A Porter (UCD/Leinster), A McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster), B Betts (Young Munster/Munster); S O’Connor (Cashel/Munster), J Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster); G Jones (UCD/Leinster), D Aspil (St Mary’s College/Leisnter), M Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster).
Replacements: J O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) for C O’Brien (60 mins), V O’Brien (Cork Constitution/Munster) for McBurney (65 mins), B Connon (Newcastle Falcons/Exiles) for McPhillips, A Coyle (Naas/Leinseter) for Betts, N Saunders (Harlequins/Exiles) for Kerins, J Bollard (Dublin University/Leinster) for Porter, E Mintern (Cork Constitution/Munster) for Ryan, K Brown (Shannon/Munster) for Jones ( all 72 mins).
ARGENTINA: B Delguy; T Malanos, J Cruz Mallia, S Mare, J Dominguez; D Miotti, P Baronio; R Ricco, G Baldunciel, S Medrano; F Molina, I Calas; M Kremer, M Romanini, V Boronat.
Replacements: C Roura for Calas, L Bazan Velez for Baronio (both 46 mins), M Osadczuk for Mare (51 mins), B Stavile Bravin for Boronat (53 mins), G Del Pazo for Medrano (54 mins), S Pulella for Ricco (60 mins), M Elias for Miotti (60 mins), R Pretz for Baldunciel (65 mins), Ricco for Romanini (76 mins).
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England).