Scotland under-20 suffered a heavy defeat to their Irish counters at Dubarry Park in Athlone tonight, losing 26-0.
It was ultimately too many penalties and moments of soft defence that ended their hopes of a first win in the 2012 RBS 6 Nations Championship, which leavies Ireland chasing a grand slam with one more game to play.
On a positive note centre Mark Bennett, marked his return with pace off the mark in defence but that was ultimately met with stronger and quicker defence throughout. Scrum-half Matt Torrance also delivered fast ball during his 52 minutes of play, which was in turn matched by Murray McConnell who replaced him.
Head coach, Peter Wright, said: “Our line-out and collision cost us dearly, we lacked accuracy in both areas but it was most evident against their choke defence and when we did get the ball we weren’t patient or composed. We rushed our attack and that meant we lost the ball quickly.
“Saying that though, our defence at times was heroic and the shape was very very good.
“The worst thing for me was we had taken 90 steps forward up to the France match a fortnight ago and tonight we took a number of steps back.
“Next week we have to win and take those steps forward again, that will be the guys’ last chance to play together and to finish on a high, ahead of the IRB Junior World Championship.”
Scotland never really showed any sign of scoring in the match apart from a missed penalty from captain, Harry Leonard and a moment of quality observation form George Turner.
The hooker picked up a loose ball in his own half and booted it into space. He and winger Michael Crawley proceeded to chase the kick, with Crawley just managing to punt the ball across the whitewash and Turner still chasing, unfortunately though he just wasn’t fast enough as the covering defender was able to touch it down.
Ireland scored three tries in the match from full-back and local boy, Shane Laydan, scrum-half Luke McGrath and number 8 Jack Conan. The tries were complemented by stand-off Patrick Jackson who converted one and added another three penalties to his tally.
Run of play:
Two minutes in Ireland stand-off Patrick Jackson was rewarded a penalty but hit it short and wide. Scotland captain and Jackson’s opposite number Harry Leonard cleared it, but the ball was picked up in open play which left the Irish full-back Laydan with space up the wing. He ran the try in from 35 metres. 5-0
Jackson was then successful with his second penalty attempt when Scotland were pulled up for being offside in their own 22. 8-0
Just shy of half an hour George Turner kicked the ball into space and almost scored a try from his attempt, but just didn’t quite have the pace to beat the covering defender.
Moments later captain, Leonard had his first attempt at goal and the Scot’s first chance to add points onto the board, however the kick just sneaked wide.
Half-time: Ireland under-20 8-0 Scotland under-20
Ireland quickly opened the second-half scoring with too simple penalties which they opted to kick at goal. Jackson was successful with both. 14-0
Both teams then made a raft of subs over the next 20 minutes, while Ireland patiently battered at Scotland’s line, but after a prolonged period of attack their scum-half took the ball from the line-out and slipped through the defence and over the line. Jackson converted. 21-0
Ten minutes later and with just one minute to go, the hosts commenced another skirmish at the Scot’s line, before long number 8 Conan had split the defence again and concluded the scoring. 26-0
Full-time: Ireland under-20 26-0 Scotland under-20
Man-of-the-match: Luke McGrath
Ireland Under-20: Shane Layden (Buccaneers/Connacht); Conor Finn (Buccaneers/Connacht), Chris Farrell (Dungannon/Ulster), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster), Foster Horan (Lansdowne/Leinster); Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster)(captain), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster); Kyle McCall (QUB/Ulster), James Rael (Garryowen/Munster), Peter Reilly (Lansdowne/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Queens/Ulster), Daniel Qualter (Buccaneers/Connacht), Conor Gilsenan (UCD/Leinster), Aaron Conneely (Corinthians/Connacht), Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster).
Replacements: Callum O’Connell (Galwegians /Connacht) (for Rael, 71mins), Des Merrey (Clontarf/Leinster) (for Reilly, 57mins), Jake Cawley (Old Belvedere/Leinster) (for McCall, 78mins), Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Leinster) (for Qualter, 62mins), Jordan Coghlan (UCD/Leinster) (for Conneely, 44mins), Kieron Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht) (for McGrath, 72mins), Cathal Marsh (Dublin University/Leinster) (for Jackson, 72mins), Stuart Olding (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) (for Hanrahan, 78mins).
Scotland under-20 team: Tommy Allan (Western Province); Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Rugby/Edinburgh Accies), Mark Bennett (Clermont Auvergne), Finn Russell (Falkirk), Michael Crawley (Boroughmuir); Harry Leonard (Edinburgh Rugby) (captain), Matt Torrance (Ospreys); Robin Hislop (Edinburgh Rugby), George Turner (Edinburgh Rugby/Stewart’s Melville), Alex Allan (Loughborough Students), Andrew Redmayne (Dundee HSFP), Jonny Gray (Hamilton), Mitch Eadie (Bristol Rugby), Jamie Swanson (Boroughmuir), Will Bordill (Sale Sharks).
Replacements: Russell Anderson (Gala) (for Turner, 62mins), Gavin Robertson (Dundee HSFP) (for Allan, 72mins), Adam Sinclair (Stirling County) (for Redmayne, 47mins), Callum Reid (Edinburgh Accies) (for Swanson, 66mins), Jamie Bhatti (Stirling County) (for Hislop, 78mins), Murray McConnell (Glasgow Warriors/Ayr) (for Torrance, 52mins), Tom Steven (Glasgow Hawks) (for Crawley, 67mins), Robbie Fergusson (Ayr) (for Bennett, 59mins).
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)