SCOTLAND under-20s were unable to build on a one-point half-time lead in Dublin, as a second-half surge from their Irish counterparts saw the home-side home to claim third spot in the Six Nations table at the close of the championship.
Scotland finish fourth in the table, ahead of England and Italy, with an overall record of two wins and three losses.
John Dalziel’s men led 13-12 at the break through a fine Darcy Graham try and eight points from the boot of stand-off Adam Hastings, however two home tries in quick succession in the third quarter opened up a gap which proved too great for Scotland to overcome.
“We had a lot of injuries throughout the game and lost a lot of key guys, but the players on the pitch gave everything,” said Dalziel.
“The Irish defence really tightened up in the second-half, and there was a couple of moments and missed opportunities which we didn’t take despite the amount of possession we had.”
“Ireland really grew into the game and their defence in the second-half proved really hard to break down.”
“We were missing a few boys going into the game, but the players that came in, Stephen Ainslie and the likes, were outstanding. They’re a resilient bunch so they’ll bounce back knowing that they can do better than the performance tonight.”
Adam Hastings was first on the score-sheet with a fifth minute penalty, to which he added another ten minutes later to put Scotland 6-0 up with a quarter of the game gone.
Ireland replied with through hooker and man-of-the-match Adam McBurney, who bundled over the whitewash following a lineout drive. Stand-off Johnny McPhillips was successful with the conversion to give his side the lead for the first time in the match.
Back-row Matt Smith left the pitch for a head injury assessment after 28 minutes, to be replaced by debutant Lee Scott.
Scotland persistence in attack paid off when Darcy Graham picked a lovely inside line off the ever-aware Hugh Fraser, and used his pace to leave the scrambling defenders in his wake. Hastings split the uprights with the conversion to put Scotland 13-7 ahead.
Ireland replied almost instantaneously with a try of their own from wing Jacob Stockdale, who was the beneficiary of his side putting the ball through the hands and exposing their extra men in the wide channels.
The home-side grabbed their third try in the 44th minute, with back-row Will Connors being awarded with the score following a TMO decision. Full-back Brett Connon adopted kicking duties, and slotted the conversion.
Scotland wing Robbie Nairn suffered a leg injury and was replaced by Ruaridh Dawson – a scrum-half.
Ireland were looking increasingly confident, and extended their lead in the 55th minute through a penalty try, after a series of scrum infringements from the Scots, with tight-head prop, Callum Sheldon, also being shown a yellow card. The Scottish scrum was without two key players from recent matches, with full internationalist Zander Ferguson regular under-20s captain Scott Cummings, who had both been recalled by Glasgow Warriors to sit on the bench against Leinster, while Jamie Ritchie of Edinburgh has not been available all championship.
Despite being a man down, Scotland battled on and showed great resilience to close the deficit through centre George Taylor, who showed pace and power to finish off a well-worked counter-attack to score in the corner.
Ireland: Tries: McBurney, Stockdale, Connors, Penalty Try; Cons: McPhillips, Connon 2
Scotland: Tries: Graham, Taylor; Cons: Hastings; Pens: Hastings 2
U20 6 Nations Championship 2016 table