Ireland U-20s on brink of title after Spence inspires rout of sorry Scots

Ireland U-20 44 Scotland U-20 15

Ireland will only be deprived of the crown if England somehow manage to defeat France by 46 points in St Nazaire on Sunday afternoon, but a second U-20 championship in four years is all but in the bag.

Ireland ran in five tries in a superb display from a side which has improved game on game this season, and which hopefully sets a nice precedent for what might happen in Croke Park this afternoon.

Ireland laid out their stall from the outset and had the issue wrapped up by the interval with three tries and the boot of James McKinney helping them to a 30-9 half-time lead.

The Scottish resistance was poor, but there was little they could do to curtail the brilliance of inside centre Nevin Spence, with the Ballynahinch man crossing twice in that opening half and then setting up the third just before the break.

Number eight Patrick Butler, tight-head Stewart Maguire and openside flanker Dominic Ryan were also to the fore in taking the game to a Scottish side who denied them the championship last year.

Scotland’s Alex Blair landed a couple of early penalties in response to an opening effort from McKinney, but fears of a tight contest quickly disappeared when Spence spotted a gap down the right to dash over for the opening try after 16 minutes.

McKinney tacked on a brace of penalties for Ireland to lead by 16-6, 12 minutes from the break.

But then Spence burst through from close range for a converted try nine minutes from the interval, and further daylight was put between the sides when he set up his outside centre Eoin Griffin who put full-back Andrew Conway over for another converted try seven minutes later. Blair brought some relief to the Scots with another penalty to leave it 30-9 at the break.

Blair pulled back another penalty just after the restart but then McKinney and Tiernan O’Halloran combined to send Conway through for his second try of the game.

McKinney kept the scoreboard ticking over — he landed eight from eleven — as Ireland continued to pull away.

The victory was sealed in the final quarter when winger O’Halloran danced his way through several tackles to cross for their fifth try as the Scottish cover was again sliced open.

After that it was only a matter of ensuring Scotland did not reduce the advantage which should be enough to see them crowned champions regardless of what happens in the Loire valley on Sunday.

Scorers for Ireland: N Spence, A Conway 2 tries each; T O’Halloran try; J McKinney 5 cons, 3 pens.

Scorers for Scotland: A Blair 5 pens.

IRELAND U-20: A Conway (Blackrock/Leinster); T O’Halloran (Galwegians/Connacht), E Griffin (Corinthians/Connacht), N Spence (Ballynahinch/Ulster), S Zebo (Cork Con/Munster); J McKinney (Queen’s/Ulster), J Cooney (UCD/Leinster); J O’Connell (Lansdowne/Leinster), N Annett (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), S Maguire (Old Belvedere/Leinster); D O’Callaghan (UCC/Munster), B Marshall (UCD/Leinster); R Ruddock (UCD/Leinster), D Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster), P Butler (Shannon/Munster).

Replacements: B Cagney (UCC/Munster) for Maguire, 68 mins; B Hayes (Cork Con/Munster) for Marshall, 68 mins; B Macken (Blackrock/Leinster) for O’Halloran, 76 mins; G Quinn McDonogh (Shannon/Munster) for McKinney, 80 mins; R Byrne (UCD/Leinster) for Annett, 80 mins; M Heaney (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) for Cooney, 80 mins; R O’Sullivan (Bective Rangers/Leinster) for Ryan, 80 mins.

SCOTLAND U-20: T Brown (Edinburgh Academicals); O Grove (Worcester), J Johnstone (Currie), A Dunbar (Selkirk), D Fife (Currie); A Blair (Edinburgh Academicals), A Black (Leeds); N Little (Hawick), A Walker (Currie), C Phillips (Stewarts Melville); M Reid (Heriots), R Harley (West of Scotland); M Matman (Heriots), S McInally (Watsonians), D Denton (Edinburgh Academicals).

Replacements: D Weir (Glasgow Hawks) for Dunbar, half-time; K Hamilton (Caithness) for Black, half-time; A Hall (Newcastle) for Phillips, 46 mins; C Stidston-Nott (London Scottish) for Reid, 46 mins; M Scott (Currie) for Johnstone, 66 mins; L Gibson (Melrose) for Walker, 72 mins.

Referee: M Raynal (France)

More in this section

CourtsRugbyPlace: Dubarry ParkPlace: St NazairePlace: Croke ParkPlace: Loire ValleyPlace: ofPlace: CaithnessPlace: FrancePerson: SpencePerson: James McKinneyPerson: Nevin SpencePerson: Patrick ButlerPerson: Stewart MaguirePerson: Dominic RyanPerson: Alex BlairPerson: McKinneyPerson: Eoin GriffinPerson: Andrew ConwayPerson: BlairPerson: Tiernan O’HalloranPerson: ConwayPerson: O’HalloranPerson: T O’HalloranPerson: J McKinneyPerson: E GriffinPerson: N SpencePerson: S ZeboPerson: J CooneyPerson: J O’ConnellPerson: S MaguirePerson: D O’CallaghanPerson: B MarshallPerson: R RuddockPerson: D RyanPerson: P ButlerPerson: B CagneyPerson: MaguirePerson: B HayesPerson: MarshallPerson: G Quinn McDonoghPerson: R ByrnePerson: M HeaneyPerson: CooneyPerson: R O’SullivanPerson: RyanPerson: T BrownPerson: J JohnstonePerson: CurriePerson: A DunbarPerson: A BlairPerson: A WalkerPerson: C PhillipsPerson: M ReidPerson: R HarleyPerson: M MatmanPerson: S McInallyPerson: D DentonPerson: D WeirPerson: K HamiltonPerson: A HallPerson: PhillipsPerson: C StidstonPerson: ReidPerson: M ScottPerson: L GibsonPerson: WalkerPerson: M RaynalOrganisation: IrelandOrganisation: ScotlandOrganisation: EnglandOrganisation: FranceOrganisation: ConwayOrganisation: BlackrockOrganisation: LeinsterOrganisation: GalwegiansOrganisation: ConnachtOrganisation: CorinthiansOrganisation: BallynahinchOrganisation: UlsterOrganisation: Cork ConOrganisation: MunsterOrganisation: Queen’sOrganisation: UCDOrganisation: LansdowneOrganisation: NOrganisation: Belfast HarlequinsOrganisation: Old BelvedereOrganisation: UCCOrganisation: ShannonOrganisation: AnnettOrganisation: Bective RangersOrganisation: SCOTLAND U-20Organisation: Edinburgh AcademicalsOrganisation: WorcesterOrganisation: SelkirkOrganisation: D FifeOrganisation: CurrieOrganisation: LeedsOrganisation: HawickOrganisation: Stewarts MelvilleOrganisation: HeriotsOrganisation: WatsoniansOrganisation: Glasgow HawksOrganisation: DunbarOrganisation: NewcastleOrganisation: London ScottishOrganisation: JohnstoneOrganisation: Melrose
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