John_s_version_3Ireland U20 (12) 26
TRY: Adam McBurney, Jacob Stockdale, Will Connors, Penalty Try. CON: Brett Connon (3).
Scotland U20 (13) 18
TRY: Darcy Graham, George Taylor. CON: Adam Hastings. PEN: Adam Hastings (2).

Ireland U20’s finished their Six Nations campaign with an entertaining 26 – 18 win against Scotland at Donnybrook on Friday night. 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series of matches with Nigel Carolan’s charges predominantly looking to play simple attractive rugby throughout. Granted they haven’t always delivered and this looked like it would be one of those matches as Scotland raced to a 0 – 6 lead, from the boot of Adam Hastings. 

Ireland struggling to string more than a couple of passes together for most of the first quarter until, somewhat against the run of play, the excellent Adam McBurney crossed the line from an attacking Irish line out after good work by the equally impressive James Ryan. Brett Connon converted to push Ireland into an unexpected  7 – 6 lead on the 24th minute. 

Despite general improvements from Ireland, with McBurney in particular in fine form, it was the Scots who were next to trouble the scoreboard as winger Darcy Graham latched onto an inside pass from Hugh Fraser to cross under the posts. Hastings converted and the visitors led 7 – 13 on the half hour mark.  

A mix up with the stadium clock set up Ireland’s response as Hastings kicked the ball out on the full thinking time was up. However with still five minutes to play Ireland latched onto the gift of the line out and well timed passes from  Johnny McPhillips, Shane Daly and Connon sent Jacob Stockdale over in the left. Connon missed the conversion leaving Scotland with a one point lead as the teams went into the break. 

Ireland turned the screw at the start of the second half with the pack getting well on top. Will Connors found the line after a period of sustained pressure following an attacking line out and with Connon converting Ireland went back in front 19 – 13. 

The game looked over on the 56th minute when Ireland were awarded a penalty try from a series of attacking scrums and with Scottish prop Callum Sheldon yellow carded there looked no way back for the visitors. 

However, the Scots went on the offensive and kept Ireland pinned in their own half for much of the penalty interval and they capped it all off with a fine try from centre George Taylor who swatted a couple of Irish defenders out of his way in his charge for the line. 

The conversion was missed by Rory Hutchinson, leaving Ireland eight points clear with just over ten minutes to play and Scotland back in the ascendency. 

Ireland held on with a couple of turnovers and their scrum advantage allowed them to see out the game. 

Final Score:  Ireland 26 Scotland 18

Ireland U20: Brett Connon, Hugo Keenan, Shane Daly, Conor O’Brien, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny McPhillips, Stephen Kerins, James Bollard, Adam McBurney, Conán O’Donnell, Sean O’Connor, James Ryan, Cillian Gallagher, Will Connors, Greg Jones. Replacements: Hugo Kean, Andrew Porter, Adam Coyle, Peter Claffey, Max Deegan, John Poland, Paul Kiernan, Matthew Byrne.

All in all a pleasing series from the U20’s who have won their last three matches for a third place finish and, as I said at the start, they have generally tried to play good rugby.  (In fact their worst game came after they trained with the senior squad so read into that what you want! 😯 ).

Sure their basic skills have occasionally let them down under pressure but that can be worked on in the paddock between now and the Rugby World Under 20’s Championships in June.

McBurney-Ireland-U20

Adam McBurney picks up MotM against Scotland. 

As far as the Ulster boys are concerned Adam McBurney has to be the star, pushing the impressive James Ryan all the way for Irish player of the series. Johnny McPhillips showed enough with the ball in hand to warrant his selection though he did have a few flaky moments but, at eighteen, he’ll only improve.

Jacob Stockdale was only released by Ulster for the last two matches and it was obvious that he hasn’t trained with this group as often as he should. He did display his undoubted class in the first half of this game, when he spearheaded Ireland’s comeback, but in the second half, and for most of the game against Italy, he was much too quiet. Hopefully he’ll be released for full involvement for the Championships in June.  

Thanks to the IRFU for the pictures. 

 

#SUFTUM