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Malone has to watch his worst Black nightmare

Ireland U20s 3 New Zealand U20s 69

By Robert Jones

Peter Malone knew it was going to be tough, but not even in his worst nightmares could he have imagined his Ireland U-20s performing so poorly against a ruthless New Zealand side.

By the end of an utterly one-sided game, the Baby Blacks had scored 11 tries, all the while keeping Malone's charges at bay.

Injuries were again a major problem as skipper Jack Kelly and Conor Fitzgerald (both ankle knocks) were forced off, but still, the passiveness of Ireland's play was hugely disappointing.

Fitzgerald arrived in Georgia at the start of the week, but when he left the pitch it summed up Ireland's struggles as they lost their fourth-choice out-half.

Nevertheless, Malone will have been furious with how easy New Zealand cut Ireland to shreds - at one stage in the second half they were down to 13 players and still managed to work the ball from inside their own 22 and score.

Ireland now face the possibility of finishing 12th and thus being relegated from the top tier. A win against Samoa on Tuesday would appear a must.

"It's an Irish team representing Ireland and we expect them to perform better than that," Malone said. "We couldn't live with their pace or offloading. We thought we might upset them with our line speed but we didn't."

It had all started so positively for Ireland with Gavin Coombes and Sean Masterson taking the game to the Baby Blacks up front and, indeed, Fitzgerald's fourth-minute penalty put Ireland in front. But after that it was all one-way traffic.

A brace of tries each from the outstanding duo Will Jordan and Caleb Clarke, as well as one from Braydon Ennor, left Ireland chasing the game. Tiaan Falcon added three conversions for a comfortable 31-3 half-time lead.

There was no let-up after the restart as Clarke and Jordan both completed their hat-tricks.

IRELAND U-20 - A Tynan; M Silvester, J Kelly (C Frawley 30), D McCarthy, L Coombes; C Fitzgerald (C Dean, 58), J Stewart (J Stafford 56); J Conway (J Duggan 55), A Moloney (R Kelleher 70), G McGrath (C Connolly 53); G Coombes, J Regan; M Rea (C Doris h-t), J Foley, S Masterson (F Wycherley 62).

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