Ireland U20 went down 45 – 17 to a ruthless Australian side who ran in five tries in the final quarter to make light of Ireland’s efforts in this Pool B second round match in the 2019 World Rugby U20 Championship. 

A wonder try from Malone’s Stewart Moore had edged Ireland in front on the hour mark, despite going down to 14 players following a red card for Ryan Baird on the 21st minute, but once Australia started to hit their outside runners at pace Ireland had no answer and the Aussies ran in five tries without reply. 

Both teams appreciated the importance of this game in a tight first half. Australia enjoyed the better of the early exchanges to take a 3 – 0 lead through a Harrison penalty. 

A yellow card on the quarter hour for Australia’s Tupou saw Ireland begin to come into the game but thier advantage didn’t last long as Ryan Baird was red carded for a similar offence. 

Australia extended their lead to 10 – 0 through a Tui try, converted by Harrison but the hard working Ireland side finally caught a break when Craig Casey was awarded a try after a quick tap and go, despite appearing to be held up over the line. Jake Flannery converted to push the score to 10 – 7 in Australia’s favour as the teams changed ends – Ireland somewhat relieved that Harrison sliced a couple of penalty attempts during the first half. 

Ireland enjoyed their best period at the start of the second half, but they had to rely on Australian indiscipline to get their first points of the half.  The Aussies, who had been mouthy throughout, had a relieving penalty overturned for unsporting behaviour and Flannery knocked it over to tie the game.

It seemed, at the time, scant reward for Ireland who had spent the first 15 minutes of the second half camped in the Australian half. However, minutes later Moore was weaving his way through the Australian defence for what must be one of the tries of the tournament. Ben Healy, just on for Rob Russell, knocked over the conversion and Ireland led 10 – 17 as the game went into it’s final quarter. 

Unfortunately that was it for the Irish lads. When a degree of continuity was required Ireland decided to make their predetermined substitutions over the next couple of minutes and Australia, inspired by rampaging second row replacement Nick Frost, cut loose. 

Lucas and Nawaqanitawase both scored converted tries before Frost got in on the act, the three tries, in a 5 minute burst pushing Australia clear by 31 – 17 and Ireland were in complete disarray as the game went into its last ten minutes. 

Ireland looked for a response but found nothing and Australia completed the rout with Harrison and Frost both crossing, Harrison converting both to take the score to 45 – 17 at the final whistle. 

What does it mean now?

It was a hard lesson for Ireland, but one that is dealt out frequently at this tournament. Their failure to pick up a losing bonus point means that their chances of qualification for the final four is over in reality, though there is still a remote mathematical possibility. 

However, they are well set for competing in the 5th place play offs  and we had stated when the extended squad was announced that a top six finish should be their aim. 

They still have plenty to play for, so it’s a case of regrouping for the final pool game against Italy. Anything better than a losing bonus point should see them progress to the 5th place play offs. 

Starting teams and replacements. 
AUSTRALIA U20   IRELAND U20
Isaac Lucas (Sunnybank) 15 Rob Russell (Dublin University)
Sione Tui (Melbourne) 14 Angus Kernohan (QUB)
Semisi Tupou (Rebels) 13 Liam Turner (Dublin University)
Noah Lolesio (Tuggeranong) 12 Stewart Moore (Malone)
Mark Nawaqanitawase (Eastwood) 11 Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution)
Will Harrison (Randwick) 10 Jake Flannery (Cork Constitution)
Michael McDonald (Palmyra) 9 Craig Casey (Shannon)
Angus Bell (Sydney University) 1 Josh Wycherley (Young Munster)
Lachlan Lonergan (Vikings) 2 Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians)
Josh Nasser (University of Queensland) 3 Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University)
Michael Wood (Brothers) 4 Charlie Ryan (Capt.) (UCD)
Trevor Hosea (Melbourne Harlequins) 5 Ryan Baird (Trinity College)
Harry Wilson (Brothers) 6 David McCann (Banbridge)
Fraser McReight (C) (Brothers) 7 Ronan Watters (St Mary’s College)
Will Harris (Eastern Suburbs) 8 John Hodnett (UCC)
Replacements Used
Rhys Van Nek   John McKee (Old Belvedere)
Esei Haangana (Rebels)   Michael Milne (UCD)
Nick Frost (Brumbies)   Declan Adamson (Clontarf)
Carlo Tizzano (Western Force)   Niall Murray (Connacht)
Patrick Tafa (Norths)   Ciaran Booth (Sale Sharks)
Kye Oates (University of Queensland)   Colm Reilly (Buccaneers)
Joey Walton (Randwick)   Ben Healy (Garryowen)
    Cormac Foley (St Mary’s College)

#SUFTUM