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Ruthless Irish set up semi clash with Argentina

Ireland 35-7 Georgia

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland booked their place in the World Rugby Under-20s Championship semi-finals for only the second time after a 35-7 win over Georgia yesterday.

Having already overcome Wales and New Zealand in Pool A, Nigel Carolan made 13 changes for the clash against the eastern Europeans but his squad players did the job despite an early scare.

They will now meet Argentina in the last four on Monday after the Pumas battled past Japan.

Georgia had yet to score a try in the tournament coming into the contest but Ireland, who got off to a bad start when skipper James Ryan dropped out of the matchday squad just prior to kick-off, were dealt a further blow when the underdogs took the lead.

Lelos captain Vasil Lobzhanidze, already capped at senior level, darted over to give his side the edge but that was as good as it got for the tournament debutants.

During the same passage of play that saw Hugo Keenan draw Ireland level with a try, the referee consulted with his TMO and decided to show flanker Ilia Spanderashvili a red card after just eight minutes for lashing out.

Ulster Academy man Johnny McPhillips converted and then added a pair of penalties.

The out-half, who came into the side after Munster's Bill Johnston was lost to injury, then provided a score of his own for a 20-7 half-time lead.

After the turn, McPhillips was involved again as a smart move saw Terry Kennedy apply the finishing touch but Ireland were made to wait before securing the bonus point.

With the final play of the game, replacement prop Andrew Porter, who has been in inspirational form during this tournament, was forced over with full-back Brett Connon adding the extras from the corner to round out the scoring and finish top of the group.

"It was a tough game so respect to Georgia," said McPhillips afterwards.

"We knew it would be tough coming in so we're just glad that we could get there in the end with a bonus point win and top the group.

"We're in the semis now so we're just looking forward to it."

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