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Ireland U20s Secure Semi Final Spot

16th June 2016 By Munster Rugby

Despite conceding a try in the game’s opening minutes, Ireland U20s recovered quickly to render their Georgian counterparts scoreless for the remainder of the game as they recorded a bonus point win in the World Rugby U20s Championship and booked a place in the semi-finals.

Despite conceding a try in the game’s opening minutes, Ireland U20s recovered quickly to render their Georgian counterparts scoreless for the remainder of the game as they recorded a bonus point win in the World Rugby U20s Championship and booked a place in the semi-finals.

The dominant side throughout, Hugo Keenan and Johnny Phillips notched up tries in the opening 40 and the victory was well and truly beyond doubt when Terry Kennedy scored with 20 minutes to go. Worthy of a five point return, Ireland had to fight to the very end against a defiant Georgia side, eventually crossing for the bonus point try through Andrew Porter in the final play of the game.

Ireland now face Argentina in the semi-final on Monday at 5.30pm.

The best possible start for Georgia saw them register the game’s first try after just four minutes when scrum half Vasil Lobzhanidze sold the Irish defence the dummy around the fringes and touched down.

David Modzgvrishvili then added the conversion but Ireland were back on level terms within minutes after sharp hands from right to left found Keenan and the winger stepped beautifully inside the sweeping defence to dot down in the corner.

Out half McPhillips’ conversion drew the sides level and the Georgians’ task was made all the more difficult with the red carding of number 6 Ilia Spanderashvili who kicked-out at ruck time.

Excellent pressure and greater continuity from Ireland soon had them out in front as McPhillips slotted two unanswered penalties. And the Irish playmaker didn’t stop there, touching down and converting Ireland’s second try within minutes of the interval.

In truth, there was an air of inevitably surrounding this timely score as Ireland exerted full control over their Georgian counterparts and McPhillips had little trouble exploiting one of the many widening gaps in the tiring Georgian defence.

Ireland took a 20-7 lead into the interval.

It was a case of ‘as you were’ upon the resumption, Nigel Carolan’s charges with the greater possession, pace and penalty count. They will however question their precision as all they could muster in twenty minutes of uninterrupted possession was a McPhillips penalty.

Upon 60 minutes however, things began to click again and good lines of running and crisp passing from Greg Jones and Jimmy O’Brien found Kennedy on right wing who had an easy run in for the corner.

Replacement scrum half Stephen Kerins looked to have bagged the bonus point try on 73 minutes, only for the TMO to adjudge that a pass from Munster’s Shane Daly in the build-up had travelled marginally forward.

With every point crucial, Ireland continued to throw everything they had at Georgia and excellent phase play was eventually rewarded in the final minute, loosehead powerhouse Porter barging over at close range and full-back Brett Connon capping off a comprehensive win by bisecting the posts for the extras.

35-7 the full time score and Ireland now progress to the semi-finals of the World Rugby U20s Championship in impressive form.

The game marked an excellent first tournament start for Munster’s Sean O’Connor who was named man of the match. The Cashel RFC clubman was one of six Munster players in a matchday 23 captained by the province’s Paul Kieran. Elsewhere in the starting XV, Evan Mintern made his Ireland U20 debut, with Vincent O’Brien and Kelvin Brown making their first starts of the competition while Shane Daly featured off the bench.

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