Valiant Scots unable to complete Irish double

Scotland under-20 were unable to complete the double over their Irish counterparts as they fell to a 24-20 defeat in the second round of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.

A last minute try from Ruairidh Knott, duly converted by Blair Kinghorn, was enough to salvage the Dark Blues a bonus point in Pool C, yet wasn’t enough to cap-off the comeback and secure victory in the unrelenting Calvisano heat.

Patrick Kelly

In a very competitive first-half, Scotland were unable to make the most of their chances, contrary to their Irish opponents who held a commanding 15-0 lead after 35 minutes. 

A George Horne penalty minutes from the close of the first period opened Scotland’s scoring account, yet there would be no more points to speak of before the referee blew up for half-time. 

Scotland looked the stronger of the sides throughout the second-half, yet an inability to be clinical in the right areas hampered their chance of snatching the lead.

Horne and Ireland stand-off Joey Carberry exchanged penalties in the opening five minutes of the second-half, yet Scotland were dominant and imposed themselves on the Ireland line with sustained periods of pressure.

A Lewis Carmichael try, converted by Blair Kinghorn, kept Scotland in the game, yet a high error-count stopped the Dark Blues from taking the lead at any point.

Ireland’s replacement stand-off Tomas Quinlan slotted a penalty in the 77th minute, building on another kick from Carberry, to give his side a 24-13 lead, and, seemingly, to close the game out.

The undying spirit of the Scotland squad came to the fore as Ruaridh Knott battered his way over the line, feeding off the initial work of Richard Galloway who stormed up the park from deep, which clinched Scotland a losing bonus point in stoppage time. Kinghorn slotted his second conversion of the day to end the game at 24-20 in favour of Ireland.

Run of play

Scotland opened the tie looking energetic, and hungry to set their stall out early. 

Wing Robbie Nairn and full-back Ruairi Howarth linked up within the opening minute, with the latter crossing the line, yet the referee pulled played back for a forward pass in the build-up play.

Seven minutes worth of pressure from the Scots failed to come to fruition, as Ireland managed to salvage the ball back and clear their lines.

A well-rehearsed move from the base of the scrum in the tenth minute, allowed Ireland full-back Billy Dardis to scamper over the line, following an initial break from centre Garry Ringrose.

After failing to convert his side’s try, Irish stand-off Joey Carberry slotted an easy penalty ten minutes later following  a Scottish ruck infringement (0-8).

Scotland made good inroads, puncturing a solid Irish defence on many occasions, with Zander Fagerson and George Horne both coming close to scoring, yet their attempts came to no avail.

However, an error-strewn performance from the Scots was not mirrored by their Irish opposition, who continued to take their opportunities. Back-row Conor Oliver was next on the scoreboard for the men in green, sniping over from close range on the half-hour mark. Carberry’s successful conversion gave Ireland a commanding 15-0 lead.

Horne put Scotland on the board after 37 minutes, as he dinked over a penalty kick from directly in front of the posts.

Half-time: Scotland under-20 3 v 15 Ireland under-20

Ireland stand-off Joey Carberry and Horne scored a penalty a piece in the opening first five minutes of the second-half, as both sides looked to steadily build their scoring tallies (6-15).

Ruariadh Knott came agonisingly close for Scotland, before their pressure paid off and Lewis Carmichael dotted down for his second try in as many games in the Scotland shirt. Kinghorn’s conversion put the Dark Blues to within five points of the men in green on the 60 minute mark (13-18).

Scotland took command of the game but an inability to be clinical in the right areas put an end to a number of try scoring opportunities. Ireland were down to 14-men following the sin-binning of try-scorer Oliver, yet the Dark Blues were still unable to convert pressure into points.

Against the flow of the game, Ireland slotted two penalties – one a piece for Carbery and replacement Tomas Quinlan – opening up an 11 point gap, and giving the men in green a 24-13 lead as the clock struck 80 minutes. 

Scotland, seeking a losing bonus point, took the initiative to attack from deep within their half, and their intuition paid off as wing Richard Galloway galloped up the touchline, finding his way into Ireland’s half. Following another couple of phases, the Dark Blues scored their second try of the half through Ruaridh Knott, a just reward for his earlier effort.

Blair Kinghorn’s conversion closed the game at 24-20, giving Scotland a vital losing bonus point in Pool C. 

Full-time: Scotland under-20 20 v 24 Ireland under-20

Scotland under-20: Ruairi Howarth; Robbie Nairn, Tom Galbraith, Patrick Kelly, Alec Coombes; Blair Kinghorn, George Horne; Murray McCallum, Sam James, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Lewis Carmichael, Neil Irvine-Hess, Jamie Ritchie CAPTAIN and Magnus Bradbury.

Replacements [all used]: Ross Graham, Dan Elkington, Jack Owlett, Andrew Davidson, Ruairidh Knott, Ben Vellacott, Rory Hutchinson and Richard Galloway.

Ireland under-20: Billy Dardis; Ciaran Gaffney, Garry Ringrose, Sam Arnold, Stephen Fitzgerald; Joey Carbery, Nick McCarthy; Andrew Porter, Sean McNulty, Oisin Heffernan, David O’Connor, Alex Thompson, Josh Murphy, Conor Oliver and Lorcan Dow.

Replacements: Zack McCall, Liam O’Connor, Conan O’Donnell, Jack Dwan, Nick Timoney, Charlie Rock, Tomas Quinlan and Jacob Stockdale.