Emerging Ireland have won the IRB Nations Cup, completing a highly successful June for the country's three touring sides. The seniors recorded an unprecedented 2-0 Test series win over the Pumas in Argentina, while in New Zealand the Under-20s reached the semi-finals of the Junior World Championship for the first time.
Last night in Bucharest, Emerging Ireland made it a notable hat-trick, beating host nation Romania 31-10 at National Arcul de Triumf – the third bonus point triumph of the series.
Ian Keatley opened the scoring with a penalty in the opening minutes, only to see his opposite number Florin Vlaicu equalise with a drop-goal.
But realistically it was over as a contest shortly after half-time. Ireland had turned round with a 17-3 lead and when No 8 Robin Copeland added a third try shortly after the resumption – again Keatley added the extras – that left Romania three converted tries shy of parity.
Ulster representatives played major roles, as in addition to assistant coach Neil Doak's contribution, right wing Craig Gilroy scored Ireland's second try moments after Dominic Ryan bagged the first. Keatley converted both.
Romania finally cut the deficit late in the game with a penalty try, converted by Vlaicu, but in the last play scrum-half Paul Marshall was twice involved in a passage which finished with the award of another penalty try when Andrew Conway was shoulder charged into touch in goal. Again Keatley converted.
Ulster's third starter, inside-centre Stuart McCloskey, was outstanding in Ireland's midfield defence, while tight-head Ricky Lutton – a 60th minute replacement – played his part in the scrum.