Ireland U20’s won the crucial 9th – 12th place semi-final 52 – 26 against Samoa U20’s in the 2017 World Rugby U20’s Championship at Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi on Tuesday afternoon.
It really was a must-win game for the Irish youngsters who otherwise would have faced a difficult relegation play-off against Argentina. Instead, they now play hosts Georgia at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium, Tbilisi in front of what promises to be a large home crowd and if they win that one as well they will feel they have had a successful tournament.
Ireland started strongly with impressive hooker Ronan Kelleher going under the posts for Ireland’s first try after a series of pick and goes in the Samoa red zone. Conor Dean converted to give Ireland a 7 -0 lead.
Ireland got their second try on the ten-minute mark with Peter Cooper strongarming the ball to the ground after a line-out maul and Ireland were well set by the end of the first quarter after Fineen Wycherley showed good awareness of the try line to roll the ball over for the third. Dean converting to give Ireland a 19 – 0 lead.
Samoa hit back with an unconverted try from Theodore Solipo, who broke clear up the left but Ireland were able to restore their advantage before the break with Oisin Dowling crossing for a converted try after Samoa’s Tagoai was yellow carded.
Half Time: Ireland 26 Samoa 5
Ireland completed the fabled double of scoring just before and after the break when Calvin Nash streaked clear shortly after the restart to push the score to 31 – 5 but as the game opened up a bit more the Samoan’s were able to make considerable inroads with their counter-attacking.
The pressure told and Dowling was binned, Samoa taking full advantage with a try from Enoka, converted by Ene as the islanders enjoyed a good spell to take the score to 31 – 12.
Any thoughts of a comeback were quickly quashed as Kelleher crossed for his second try and with Dean on target the score rose to a comfortable 38 – 12 in Ireland’s favour as te game went into the final quarter.
A break by Ciaran Frawley put the result beyond doubt at 45 – 12. However, Samoa scored two late tries, either side of a response from Caelan Doris, to leave the final score Ireland U20 52 Samoa U20 26.
Ireland U20: Alan Tynan, Michael Silvester, Gavin Mullin, Ciaran Frawley, Calvin Nash, Conor Dean, Jack Stafford, Jordan Duggan, Ronan Kelleher, Peter Cooper, Fineen Wycherley, Oisin Dowling, Gavin Coombes, Paul Boyle, Caelan Doris. Replacements: Adam Moloney, Joey Conway, Charlie Connolly, Jack Regan, John Foley, Jonny Stewart, David McCarthy, Mark Keane.
We spoke to Ireland U20’s Captain Paul Boyle after the game:
We’re delighted to get the first win. We trained hard the last few weeks and it hasn’t quite come off for us, so we sat down and had a few harsh words this week so it was good to get over the line.
We’ll work on the errors we made today, because there were a few out there, but hopefully now after that win, we’ll be on a roll and we can take that into our final match.