Ireland fall short again as early dominance fires French to victory

France 19 Ireland 13

Ireland fall short again as early dominance fires French to victory

Yesterday in the IRB Junior World Cup at North Harbour, Auckland, was just as frustrating, although Ireland did show signs of improvement.

Once again, though, Mike Ruddock’s charges left themselves too much to do after falling 16-3 behind to a French side that began with promise and determination.

Ireland suffered badly at ruck time and it was easy for the French to build up a head of steam. Ruddock’s men, did, however, prosper in other areas, particularly on their one-on-one defence and at scrum time.

France had more possession – and more scores — in the first half with a try from Ivan Roux, two penalties and a conversion from Baptiste Serin and a drop goal from Brandon Fajardo to a penalty reply from Ireland’s Ross Byrne. Late on, though, full-back Cian Kelleher gave Ireland a boost with an excellent try and Byrne converted to leave them just six points adrift at the interval.

Ireland improved considerably in the second half, with front rowers Peter Dooley, Max Abbott and Rory Burke making life extremely uncomfortable for France, who conceded several penalties at scrum time and struggled to cope with the intensity of Peadar Timmons and skipper Jack O’Mahony.

It didn’t help that Byrne missed an easy enough penalty chance, that Frankie Taggart was hauled down inches out or that French outhalf Fajardo pushed out the lead to 19-10 with seven minutes to play.

Replacement outhalf Conor McKeon narrowed the gap again but France held out against late Irish pressure.

IRELAND: C Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster); C Gaffney (Galwegians/Connacht), G Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), D Goggin (Young Munster/Munster), I Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster); R Byrne (UCD/Leinster), N McCarthy (UCD/Leinster); P Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), M Abbott (Cork Constitution/Munster), R Burke (Cork Constitution/Munster), S Gardiner (Lansdowne/Leinster), R Molony (UCD/Leinster), P Timmins (UCD/Leinster), F Taggart (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), J O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster, captain).

Replacements: R Foley (Cork Constitution/Munster) for McCarthy, D Donnellan (UCD/Leinster) for Abbott, D Dee (Young Munster/Munster) for Taggart (all 57 mins), D Moloney (Cork Constitution/Munster) for Gardiner, C McKeon (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Byrne (both 61), B Dardis (UCD/Leinster) for Kelleher (63), D Coulson (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Dooley (65), O Heffernan (Lansdowne/Leinster) for Burke (68).

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