Young dragons draw first blood

 

Wales U-20s 17 Ireland U-20s 15:Ireland outscored their hosts at a wet and windy Colwyn Bay this evening but fell just short as the Welsh youngsters got the Six Nations off to a winning start for the home side. Scores from Luke McGrath and Thomas Daly were no less than Mike Ruddock’s side deserved, but the boot of Sam Davies eventually proved decisive on the night.

The Welsh placekicker missed three early shots at goal as Ireland were put under immense pressure in the scrum, but finally opened the scoring after the Irish set-piece disintegrated one time too many.

Daly and Rory Scannell showed glimpses in attack with the little possession they had but it was McGrath who proved the real threat. The UCD scrum-half was a lively presence, sparking the Irish back line and darting forward at any opportunity and earning the game’s first try.

Gavin Thornbury provided ideal attacking possession from the lineout, Scanell made the most of it by making the hard yards before McGrath stepped between two opponents on the line for a try that Daly converted.

After the break, Davies trimmed the lead to a single point but Wales were gradually turning the screw up front and the pressure told when Malone prop Christopher Taylor was binned for failing to roll away in the tackle. Already under pressure at the scrum, Ireland managed to repel the subsequent drive but fell short of number out wide where Dion Jones crossed on 55 minutes and Scanell’s high tackle on Ellis Jenkins enabled Davies to open a 14-7 lead.

To their credit, Ireland refused to buckle and turned the tide on their hosts who saw prop Nicky Thomas shown a yellow card after number eight Conor Joyce barged forward. Ryan Murphy saw his effort ruled out by the video official on the hour but Ireland had built up a head of steam and after turning down two shots at goal, Daly finally barged his way through two tackles to clinch his team’s second try.

Davies struck a fourth penalty to open a five point lead before Daly set up a nail-biting finish with his first penalty five minutes from time. But by then, Ireland were running on empty.

Wales:D Jones; A Evans, C Allen, S Hughes (T Pascoe, 63), A Hewitt; S Davies, R Williams; N Smith (G Thomas, 59), E Dee (E Lewis, 75), N Thomas (D Suter, 70), C Jones, R Hughes, S Bennett (D Suter 60-70), D Thomas, E Jenkins (capt).

Ireland:S Olding (D Panther, 69); A O’Meara, T Daly, R Scannell, R Scholes; S Crosbie (D Sweetman, 75), L McGrath (J Creighton, 78); B Scott (P Dooley, H-T), G McGuigan, C Taylor, J Donnan, G Thornbery, P Timmins (J Caulfield, 48-58, J van der Flier, 77), R Murphy, C Joyce.

Referee:Laurent Carbanes (France)

Attendance:2,600

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