Early try spurs Wales as Ireland lose the plot

Wales U19s 37 Ireland U19s 6

They won’t get it now in advance of the tournament after they wrapped up preparations at Bedwas RFC, south Wales, last night on the wrong side of the fence again.

Ireland lost the plot from the early moments and while this display was altogether more impressive than a week ago against England, it was still far short of what was required.

Wales have had their own share of trauma these last few weeks after losing to France, but they did manage narrow victories over Scotland and Italy. Arguably, the extra game time paid dividends last night because they looked a lot sharper than Ireland despite the relative improvement the visitors showed from last week.

That improvement was never more evident than in defence and they did have to spend much of the time inside their own territory.

“We need to take a further step forward,” said coach Pat Murray. “We were beaten by a much better side and you felt we were never really in with a shout after the opening sequence of scores by Wales.”

It was quite a start for Wales when they stormed over for a try inside the opening minute. The Welsh made several dangerous bursts before left winger Nicholas Gill was sent scampering away and Gareth Williams-Davies added the extra points. He kicked a penalty just afterwards before Ireland registered their first score through full-back Robert Kearney with a penalty.

But that was small consolation for Ireland, who then leaked further tries from hooker Ken Owens on either side of a second penalty from Kearney. Williams-Davies converted the second for a 22-6 lead. Two promising runs from substitute Frank Daly could well have led to Irish tries, but the visiting back division lacked the type of spark needed to create clear-cut chances and Wales were worthy of the 16-point advantage at the break.

It got worse for Ireland when Owens went in for his third try just 50 seconds into the second half after another example of how well Wales mixed their game.

Matthew D’Arcy and Evan Ryan combined reasonably well at half-back, but the only real threats in the Irish back line came from Robert Kearney and Fergus McFadden.

Ireland improved as the game went on but still found themselves on the back foot, albeit comfortably so until Jonathan Spratt ran in for a 65th minute try and that spurred Wales on to finish with a flourish. Stuart Philips came on and scored immediately to stretch the lead to 37-6 that made all the hard work in defence look like a hollow effort.

There will have to be a huge improvement as Ireland head for South Africa to face Georgia, South Africa and New Zealand. Where it will come from is the major problem facing Murray and his management team.

WALES: J. Roberts (Rumney), D. Daniel (Llanelli), T. Cheesman (Bath), J. Spratt (Neath), N. Gill (Cardiff), G. Williams-Davies (Cardiff), M. Roberts (Neath), R. Gill (Rhondda), K. Owens (Carmarthen), R. Wilks (Gwent Dragons), B. Davies (Beddau), W. Jones (Cardiff), W. Waldron (Newport), A. Powell (Cardiff), B. Lewis (Mumbles). Replacement:S. Phillips (Llanelli) for Cheeseman (66)

IRELAND: R. Kearney (Leinster); R. Boles-Colston (Exiles), F. McFadden (Leinster), D. Cave (Ulster), A. McCormack (Leinster), E. Ryan (Munster), M. D’Arcy (Leinster), G. Walsh (Munster), G. O’Meara (Leinster), K. Griffin (Munster), D. McGowan (Connacht), F. Walsh (Munster), D. Dawson (Ulster), D. Sherry (Munster), D. Laffan (Leinster). Replacements: F. Daly (Munster) for McCormack (14, injured), C. Black (Exiles) for Walsh (36, injured), B. Lynch (Exiles) for Griffin (46), e. Moloney (Munster) for Boles-Colston (49), C. Kenefick (Munster) for Walsh (58), N. Lysaght (Leinster) for McGowan (67, injured).

Referee: S. Leyshon (England).

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