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Ireland's U-20s no match for clinical Welsh

Ireland 24-35 Wales

By Robert Jones

Ireland U-20s are already playing catch-up in their Six Nations campaign after they were ruthlessly torn apart by a clinical and far superior Welsh outfit at Donnybrook last night.

All the talk in the build-up was about Ireland's bulky pack but they came up against an equally big Welsh side and crucially, their opponents had the backs outside of them to repeatedly punish the hosts.

A try either side of the break killed off Ireland's hopes and from there Wales were always in control.

Johnny McPhillips had already kicked Ireland into an early lead with a penalty and it was his perfectly weighted cross-field kick that created Cillian Gallagher's opening try.

Wales were beginning to grow in confidence and as their pack got the upper hand, the pressure eventually told on the Irish defence. Harrison Keddie was twice stopped short before Dafydd Hughes burrowed his way over. Replays suggested that the hooker was stopped short but the referee opted not to go upstairs and the try stood.

There was still time left in the half for Wales to get over for the crucial try and this time it was Ospreys' towering second-row Adam Beard who spotted a gap in Ireland's defence and scored. Dan Jones added the extras for a 20-14 lead after a pulsating half.

If the try before the break was a blow then what followed a minute after the restart was an even bigger setback. Ireland looked to clear their lines but John Poland's pass was picked off by Jones and he ran clear unopposed to score.

Nigel Carolan has spoken at length about wanting his players to make decisions for themselves and when the pack drove Wales back for a brilliantly-worked try off the set-piece, the coach's wishes had come good. Brown was credited with the try.

Just as Ireland looked to be gathering momentum, Peter Claffey was harshly sent to the bin for blocking Jones' run. The out-half fired over the resulting penalty as Wales stretched their advantage again.

Harri Millard rubbed salt in the wounds with a fourth try when he scored in the corner and Jones again slotted the touchline conversion.

Wales finished the game with 14 men as Beard was sent to the sin bin. Daly got over for a consolation try late on but attentions were already turning to a daunting trip to France next week.

IRELAND: J Power (B Connon 77); M Byrne, S Daly, J O'Brien, H Keenan; J McPhillips (C O'Brien 67), J Poland (S Keirns 73); A Porter (J Bollard 77), A McBurney (S Fenton 73), C O'Donnell (C Kenny 62); P Claffey (S O'Connor 67), J Ryan (capt); C Gallagher, W Connors (K Brown h-t), M Deegan (K Brown 24-33).

WALES: R Williams; E-W Benham (B Morgan 75), H Millard, O Watkin, K Giles (J Thomas 60); D Jones (J Evans 66), D Smith (R Morgan-Williams 52); C Domachowski (R Lewis 77), D Hughes, D Lewis (L Brown 73); S Lewis-Hughes, A Beard; T Phillips (capt), S Evans, H Keddie (M Sieniawski 73).

Referee: T Charabas (France)

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