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Ulstermen star in Ireland's thrilling opening success

Ireland 26-25 Wales

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 08/06/2016

Rising star: Jacob Stockdale (right) after scoring for Ireland yesterday
Rising star: Jacob Stockdale (right) after scoring for Ireland yesterday

Ireland won their World Rugby Under-20 Championship opener against Wales in Manchester in the most dramatic of circumstances with Ulstermen providing all three tries in the 26-25 success.

As 2016 Grand Slam winners, Wales came into the encounter as favourites and had Ireland rocking on their heels after racing into a 17-0 lead, but the men in green came roaring back.

Hooker Adam McBurney got Ireland back in it while fullback Jacob Stockdale provided a score in either half to lead a comeback charge.

Still, when Keelan Giles went over in the corner with minutes remaining, Wales could have nicked it only for the conversion to drift wide of the posts.

Such tension had seemed unimaginable after 20 minutes.

Wales did not have to wait long for their breakthrough, a scrum penalty sent to the corner leading to Shaun Evans touching down after only 11 minutes.

With Nigel Carolan's men struggling to get a foothold in the game, a lost lineout saw Wales counter and Daniel Jones produced a sumptuous cross-kick into the arms of Giles to double their lead.

With Ireland in disarray, Jones created a third score when offloading for his half-back partner Reuben Morgan Williams to scamper over.

With only a quarter gone, Ireland trailed 17-0.

Munster's Bill Johnston knocked over a drop goal to at least get on the board.

As half-time approached, Ballymena's McBurney scored off the back of a maul to leave Ireland trailing by nine.

Before the turn, the lively Stockdale took advantage of the space created by centre Conor O'Brien's clever play to score himself.

Johnston's conversion left the score 17-15 at the interval.

Johnston gave Ireland the lead for the first time with half an hour remaining.

Stockdale went over in the corner, and Giles replied but Ireland held on and face New Zealand on Saturday.

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