John_s_version_1Ireland (21) 37
TRY: Jacob Stockdale (2) Max Deegan, Shane Daly. CON: Johnny McPhillips (3) Brett Connon. PEN:  Johnny McPhillips (3).
Argentina (7) 7
TRY: Domingo Miotti. CON: Domingo Miotti.

Ireland U20’s qualified for their first ever World Rugby U20 Championship Final with a comfortable 37 – 7 win against Argentina on Monday afternoon at the Manchester City Training Academy. 

Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale crossed twice for a brace of tries either side of a length of the field effort from, Man of the Match, Max Deegan. Shane Daly wrapped it up with a last minute score, converted by Brett Connon. Johnny McPhillips kept the scoreboard ticking over adding three conversions and three penalties throughout the game. 

I’d worried about this game having seen little of the Argentinians who certainly looked fired up with an emotional rendition of their anthem. However I needn’t have worried as Ireland controlled the early exchanges and were first on the scoreboard when a cross field kick from McPhillips caused confusion in the South American sides defence. The loose ball was pounced on by Daly who slipped a pass to Stockdale who dived over for Ireland’s first try. McPhillips added the conversion to give Ireland a 7 – 0 lead. 

The remainder of the first quarter was fairly even, and I was pleased to note that the Irish scrum was more than competitive against their heavyweight opponents. 

Ireland made significant inroads in the second quarter with Max Deegan leading the charge with a break from deep. The Leinster No.8 showing impressive pace after he latched onto a loose pass and sprinted home from 60 meters on the 22nd minute. McPhillips knocked over the difficult conversion to give Ireland a 14 – 0 lead. 

Stockdale added his second five minutes later with another long range effort, this time finishing under the posts to give McPhillips an easy conversion, but Los Pumas fired a warning shot as the half came to a close when out half Domingo Miotti pulled back seven points on converting his own try.

Despite conceding three tries, Argentina had been competitive throughout the first half and the game was still delicately balanced at the start of the second half. Were we going to see an Argentinian come back or would Ireland pull clear? The importance of the next score produced a fairly cagey ten minutes from both teams. 

Thankfully it was Ireland that scored next with McPhillips slotting over a long range penalty to ease Ireland 17 points clear and two further efforts on the 61st and 66th minute pushed the game decisively in Ireland’s favour. 

With the game won Ireland’s coach Nigel Carolan started the process of calling ashore his key players and though the game had broken up there were still a few feisty exchanges in the closing minutes. Argentina’s Santiago Pulella received a red card on the 71st minute and ten minutes later Ireland’s Vincent O’Brien received a yellow as tempers flared. 

However Ireland were enjoying the bulk of possession in the final quarter and the pressure eventually told when Daly crossed for the fourth try a couple of minutes into extra time, replacement Brett Connon knocking over the conversion with the final kick of the game. 

Final Score: Ireland 37 Argentina 7

Ireland will now face England in the final on Saturday at the AJ Bell Stadium, Salford. Kick off 19:00. 

Ireland U20: Jacob Stockdale, Matthew Byrne, Shane Daly, Conor O’Brien, Hugo Keenan, Johnny McPhillips, Stephen Kerins, Andrew Porter, Adam McBurney, Ben Betts, Sean O’Connor, James Ryan, Greg Jones, David Aspil, Max Deegan. Replacements: Vincent O’Brien, James Bollard, Adam Coyle, Evan Mintern, Kelvin Brown, Niall Saunders, Brett Connon, Jimmy O’Brien. 

We’ve over 150 pictures for you to enjoy. The very good ones are from Ian Humes and the not bad ones from myself. Sorry if it’s a bit repetitive!

#SUFTUM