Spirited Scots downed by Ireland U20s in Cork

Scotland U20 got their 2020 Six Nations campaign underway in Cork, where they faced last season’s Grand Slam winners, Ireland.

The first half an hour proved to be thoroughly entertaining as both sides went toe-to-two in front of a packed out Independent Park. The swirling wind made conditions difficult for kicking so it was very much a ball in hand evening.

It was the hosts who took their early chance through their forwards, opening the scoring in the 10th minute as Jack Crowley scored from close range, before slotting his kick in front of the posts (7-0).

The lead was only to last six minutes, however, as the Scots made an instant response. Ewan Ashman came onto quick ball from Roan Frostwick to power through the tackles from 10 metres out. Nathan Chamberlain slotted his kick to level things up (7-7).

The hosts struck back through their big forwards as a TMO decision awarded Thomas Clarkson the second Irish score of the evening, as Crowley converted. (14-7)

On the 34th minute mark Jack Blain finished off a move on the left-wing to beat the last defender and dot down in the corner. Chamberlain’s kick was held up in the wind and just drifted wide. (14-12)

With the half-time whistle only a few minutes away, a fine solo effort by the impressive Crowley from deep inside his half gave the home side the momentum going into the break, as he converted his own try to lead the buoyant Irish into the break with the wind beneath their sails.

HALF TIME Ireland 21 – 12 Scotland

They used that momentum to come flying out of the traps at the start of the second period, scoring within 3 minutes of the restart, with the try coming from a fine break down the wing, as Thomas Ahern finished off a quick counter-attack in the corner.

It was quickly followed up with another try as Brian Deeny and Andrew Smith combined, with the latter scoring. The conversion attempt struck the upright, but the game was already won.

The young Scots finished with a flourish as substitute Cameron Scott scored his first try for the U20s, and the kick was converted to give Ireland a 38-26 win.

At the conclusion, Head Coach Sean Lineen said, “The character was great, and good to get all the subs on to experience that, with a few coming up from the U19s. Ireland took advantage of a few of our unforced errors to score through that at vital times. When they did get to our 22 they were pretty difficult to stop, but we did a couple of times.

“That try before half-time was a real killer for us as things swung in their favour a little bit. They had big runners and our lads are still learning, I’m really proud with the way they stuck in and got our bonus-point.

“I thought the set piece and drives were effective, so lots to take away. I was really impressed with the scrum, we’ve lost a few guys up front, but Mak Wilson and Thomas Lambert did really well coming in.

“Ewan Ashman played last year, his ball carrying were good, throwing was good. I thought Cameron Henderson was also impressive, along with Rory Darge.

“So now we’re looking forward to next week.”

The Scots also found praise from the Ireland Head Coach Noel McNamara, who said after the game, “This is the best Scottish side I’ve seen in a good couple of years and can see them taking a good few scalps throughout the tournament.”

Photo Credit: Inpho

FULL TIME Ireland 38 - 26 Scotland 

Scotland: Ollie Smith, Jacob Henry, Matthew Currie, Robbie McCallum, Jack Blain (Rufus McLean 45), Nathan Chamberlain (Cameron Scott), Roan Frostwick (Kyle McGhie 65), Alex Maxwell (Thomas Lambert 50), Ewan Ashman (Rory Jackson 78), Mak Wilson (George Breese 65) Kieran Watt (Jamie Campbell 65), Cameron Henderson Jack Hill (Gregor Brown 65), Rory Darge ©, Connor Boyle.

Ireland: Oran McNulty, Ethan McIlroy, Dan Kelly, Hayden Hyde, Andrew Smith, Jack Crowley, Lewis Finlay, Charlie Ward, Tom Stewart, Thomas Clarkson, Brian Deeny, Thomas Ahern, Sean O'Brien, Mark Hernan, David McCann.

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)

live commentary 7:15 PM Friday 31 Jan 2020

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