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Ireland U20s Down New Zealand

11th June 2016 By Munster Rugby

Ireland U20s have become the first Ireland men’s side to defeat New Zealand, doing so in Round 2 of the World Rugby U20 Championship, producing a comprehensive 24-33 victory that saw them score three tries and take charge of the game at set piece.

Ireland U20s have become the first Ireland men’s side to defeat New Zealand, doing so in Round 2 of the World Rugby U20 Championship, producing a comprehensive 24-33 victory that saw them score three tries and take charge of the game at set piece.

An early penalty saw Munster’s Bill Johnston kick Ireland into an early lead on 2 minutes, but New Zealand’s response was swift with good positional kicking putting them deep into Irish territory from where they proved too strong through the phases – Jordie Barrett crashing over and converting his try on 7 minutes.

It was soon back to a one point game when good Irish pressure saw the Kiwis go offside in defence and Johnston added the easy kick in front of the posts.

Adam McBurney then saw yellow for a deliberate knock and while Barrett pushed the subsequent penalty wide, Ireland still had to weather the New Zealand storm with 14 men for a crucial ten minutes.

Shaun Stevenson made the man advantage count for the reigning world champions on 25 minutes when he claimed his own kick-chase in bagging a skilful solo try.

However Ireland stayed firmly in touch and completed the ten minutes still within one point of the New Zealand after Greg Jones touched down off a strong line out maul with Johnston also slotting the conversion from out wide.

Then, just before half time, McBurney more than made amends for his sin binning when he explosively broke off the back of Ireland’s impressive set piece and used the hand off to good effect in crossing for Ireland’s second try of the game. Johnston’s radar was again on the money for the conversion and Ireland took the lead into the interval – 14-20.

However Nigel Carolan’s men did suffer the loss of the hugely impressive Johnston after he sustained what appeared to be a shoulder injury just before half time.

The playmaker’s replacement, Johnny McPhillips, made no mistake when presented with the first penalty of the second half after purposeful Irish attack saw the Baby Blacks try to illegally slow the Irish ball.

In keeping with the ebb and flow of this entertaining encounter, New Zealand struck back, this time running the ball from right to left where Ireland would be found wanting in defensive numbers and good hands saw Malo Tuitama cross for the Kiwis’ third.

With Barrett well left with the conversion, Ireland still had a four point buffer – 19-23.

Heavy rain made for slippery conditions and unforced errors on both sides with New Zealand sometimes opting for the quick tap when, in hindsight, a kick at goal might have been the wiser option. The world champs notably tried to up the pace of the game, but Ireland were more than up to the task, remaining solid in defence and just as dangerous in attack.

Irish pressure was richly rewarded when Max Deegan touched down off the back of a dominant Irish scrum soon after Munster’s Kelvin Brown had been held up over the line. McPhillips was again inch perfect with the conversion.

Within a minute Tuitama bagged his second try of the game for New Zealand, but in truth, the result was never in doubt as Ireland had an immediate response for everything that was thrown at them, putting the game beyond their opponents with a scrum penalty on 78 minutes.

McPhillips’ kick in front of the posts would be the final score of the game – Ireland finishing out the game well on top and full value for their 24-33 victory.

The result sees Carolan’s men take charge of Pool A with their next game against Georgia on Wednesday at 5:30pm.

From a Munster perspective, Ben Betts, Bill Johnston and Shane Daly all started with Vincent O’Brien, Kelvin Brown and Sean O’Connor all making appearances from the bench.

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