IRELAND UNDER-20s 59
SCOTLAND UNDER-20s 5
A DISMAL shadow Six Nations campaign ended in demoralising fashion for Scotland yesterday as they conceded nine tries to new champions Ireland at Musgrave Park in Cork. With a Grand Slam as well as the title to play for, the home team were simply too slick and professional for the Scots, who had to work hard from first to last to prevent the final score from being even worse.
The heavy defeat completed a whitewash for Scotland, who have now lost their last ten games in the Championship. While individual players have undoubted promise, as a collective they have a very long way to go before they can be truly competitive at this level.
“Fair play to Ireland – they’ve been a class act the whole tournament,” Scotland captain Rhys Tait said. “They’re deserved winners and deserved Grand Slam champions. They played on top of us really well today and we couldn’t quite keep up with the pace of the game.”
Tait showed exemplary leadership at times in very difficult circumstances, but nothing he or his colleagues could do was able to stop the Irish from claiming the title in style. They wasted no time in putting the pressure on the visitors with a driving maul, but good work on the deck by Scotland loosehead Michael Jones snuffed out a dangerous attack. That did no more than delay the opening score, however, as, after another maul had gained valuable ground, prop Jack Boyle drove over, with Charlie Tector converting.
The sixth-minute try was no more than the home deserved after a passage of play in which Scotland had barely got out of their own half. It was an ominous but wholly predictable beginning to the game given the relative fortunes of the sides in the Championship, and barely another six minutes had elapsed when, after the Scotland scrum had been shunted backwards, winger Fionn Gibbons forced his way over in the left corner despite the attentions of three defenders. Tector’s conversion attempt was wide.
A midfield break by Patrick Harrison offered a brief respite for the young Scots from their defensive chores, but the hooker ran out of support. A multi-phase attack midway through the half at least saw Scotland camped in Irish territory for a couple of minutes, but they were unable to make real inroads.
By contrast, Ireland were clinical when their next chance came, and Jude Postlethwaite finished off confidently after Robin Mc Clintock failed to mop up a loose ball. There was a brief review for a suspected forward pass, but Italian referee Federico Vedovelli was happy to let the score stand, and Tector’s conversion took his team’s tally to 19.
Scotland’s best chance up to that point of setting up an attacking platform came when they were awarded a penalty inside the Irish half, but Christian Townsend failed to find touch. Mc Clintock had picked up an injury just before that, and he limped off to be replaced by Keiran Clark.
Ireland thought they had scored again when the referee ruled that Boyle had got over again, but a replay showed the forward had not been in control of the grounding. The bonus-point try was not long delayed, however, and it came when a clever Tector chip into the in-goal area bounced invitingly for James Culhane to collect and touch down as several defenders hesitated. The stand-off needed treatment before adding another two points.
With five minutes left in the first half, Scotland knew all too well that their priority for the rest of the game was damage limitation. Tait showed what needed to be done with an excellent tap tackle on full-back Patrick Campbell, but there was ample time after that for Ireland to go again. Inside the last 30 seconds before the break, Mark Morrissey broke through a despairing tackle and offloaded to Ben Carson, who finished off comfortably, with Tector taking his tally to four out of five.
Scotland’s injury concerns grew when Michael Jones had to go off early in the second half, by which time it was clear that a bit of urgency had gone out of the Irish attack. That contrasted with the injection of assertiveness into the visitors’ play, and Andy Stirrat came close to producing a breakthrough only for his pass to Ross McKnight to go just too low.
Perhaps that near thing woke the Irish up, because within a couple of minutes scrum-half Matthew Devine got their sixth try, kicking through then collecting after a powerful break by Chay Mullins. Tector missed this time, and both he and the try-scorer were then replaced as Ireland decided to start emptying their bench.
A lineout maul produced a simple seventh try for James McCormick before the hour was up, and replacement fly-half Tony Butler added the two points with a little help from a post.
To their credit, Scotland kept plugging away in search of a score as the game entered its final stages, and they got off the mark just after Postlethwaite was shown a yellow card for a team offence as Ireland’s penalty count crept up. A tap penalty made good ground initially, and eventually McKnight scored in the right corner after a long pass from Townsend, who missed the conversion.
Ireland had the last word, however, with two tries in the final few minutes. Josh Hanlon burst through on a good line to score try No 8, and then Gibbons then added a ninth off first phase after a penalty went to touch. Butler converted both.
Scorers: Ireland U20s: Tries: Boyle, Gibbons 2, Postlethwaite, Culhane, Carson, Devine, McCormack, Hanlon. Cons: Tector 4, Butler 3.
Scotland U20s: Try: McKnight.
Scoring sequence (Ireland U20s first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 17-0, 19-0, 24-0, 26-0, 31-0, 33-0 half-time, 38-0, 43-0, 45-0, 45-5, 50-5, 52-5, 57-5, 59-5.
Yellow card: Ireland: Postlethwaite 69.
Ireland Under-20s: P Campbell (C Mullins 37); A King, J Postlethwaite, B Carson, F Gibbons; C Tector (T Butler 56), M Devine (E Coughlan 56); J Boyle, J McCormick (J Hanlon 60), R McGuire (S Wilson 56), C O’Tighearnaigh, M Morrissey (A McNamee 60), L McLoughlin, R Crothers, J Culhane (D Mangan 60).
Scotland Under-20s: R Mc Clintock (K Clark 29); R McKnight (T Glendinning 72), D Munn, A Stirrat, B Evans; C Townsend, M Redpath (J Cope 58); M Jones (A Rogers 45), P Harrison (D Hood 73), G Scougall (C Bowker 60), J Taylor, M Williamson, M Deehan (I Hill 60), R Tait (captain, R Gordon 68), T Brown.
Referee: F Vedovelli (Italy).