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Irish succumb to Scots' attacking ambition

Ireland 28 Scotland 32

By Steve Matthews

Scotland defeated Ireland for the first time ever in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship, coming out on top 32-28 in a thrilling encounter in the Georgian sunshine.

Scotland's ambition with ball in hand and infectious attacking style was rewarded with five tries in sun-kissed Kutaisi.

Having erased a 10-point deficit, the Scots led 12-10 ahead at half-time and three further touchdowns guided them to a well-earned bonus point.

Injury-hit Ireland showed a lot of tenacity, particularly in the second half when they twice got it back to a two-point game and also cut the deficit to four points late on, but Jack Kelly's brace of tries - adding to Shannon scrum-half Jack Stafford's score on his first start - was not enough in the end.

Ireland's other 13 points were kicked by Conor Dean and Alan Tynan, and as Peter Malone's youngsters come to terms with a frustrating second loss in Pool B, they must rally for a big final push against leaders New Zealand at the same venue on Thursday.

The Scots held on to the momentum approaching the interval and the stubborn Irish defence finally wilted in the 39th minute as hooker Renwick scored from the back of a maul to make it 12-10.

A 47th-minute penalty extended Scotland's lead before Dean replied in kind, before a loose kick forward created another counter-attack try for Scotland's Darcy Graham.

Nonetheless, Ireland's resilience came to the fore yet again, former skipper Kelly picking a great line to break onto replacement Angus Curtis's inviting pass and evade two defenders for a 57th-minute try.

The gap was back to two but, frustratingly, Connor Eastgate went over for the Scots just four minutes later, and although Tynan kept Ireland in touch with a penalty, Scotland replied instantly with a fifth try, a flowing move that ended in a score by Robbie Nairn.

Ireland made Scotland sweat in the final few minutes when Kelly showed good strength to reach over in the right corner via a Tynan offload to reduce their lead cut to four points, but a last-minute knock-on from Caelan Doris as he attempted to take a quick tap brought Ireland's challenge to an end.

Now looking to match the heroics of the 2016 team's victory over the Baby Blacks, Ireland U-20 captain Boyle said afterwards: "Scotland are a good physical side and they just came out on top in the end. That's two losses in a row, but we believe we can regroup and beat New Zealand again."

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