In the end, it was just another defeat to New Zealand, another sobering night against the aristocrats of the game, the 22-point margin the same as a year ago in New Zealand, when Ireland were fighting for third place.
Ireland made a battle of it for over half an hour but then New Zealand opened up and buried Ireland either side of the break with the sort of powerful rugby which has brought many a team to their knees.
The Baby Blacks will now fancy their chances of bidding for their fifth World Rugby U20 Championship crown, while Ireland must regroup and get ready for a ‘semi-final’ clash on Monday in the battle for fifth place.
New Zealand, who won every match in capturing the first four world titles, will now bid to win it for the first time since lifting the crown here in Italy four years ago and they might well push on and do that.
Ireland were still in with a shout when they trailed by 11-3 at the break, although the concession of a 35-metre penalty on the stroke of half-time was painful, after loosehead Andrew Porter was pinged for kicking the ball out of the hands of scrum-half Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.
It showed once again just how clinical New Zealand are at punishing teams when given a chance.
In contrast, Ireland’s bright start yielded just one penalty from three, with Joey Carbery getting them off the mark after 16 minutes.
By then he had seen a 45-metre effort from the left drop just short while a kick from the Auckland-born out-half from the right missed the target.
But with Garry Ringrose making an impact from the start and Josh Murphy, Rory Moloney and Jacob Stockdale also to the fore, it was an encouraging start by Nigel Carolan’s men.
Ringrose set the tone with a superb tackle on New Zealand full-back Luteru Laulala, a brother of former Munster centre Casey, with had the sizeable Irish crowd in good voice.
But, as New Zealand showed against Argentina, they know how to turn the screw if given an opening and they struck after 19 minutes with only their second attack of the night, with a wide pass from out-half Otere Black finishing off a stretched Irish defence for Tevita Li to score in the left corner, with Ireland full-back Billy Darfis claiming he was impeded by Nathaniel Apa.
New Zealand, with gigantic No 8 Akira Ioane making his presence felt all over the field, got more of the possession and they extended their lead to 8-3 after half an hour when Black tapped over a penalty after Josh Murphy was penalised for not binding in a scrum.
Ireland lost captain Nick McCarthy to a shoulder injury five minutes before the break with Charlie Rock, who made his U20 debut against Argentina last week, coming on.
Trailing by 11-3 at the break, Irish hopes were extinguished in the opening minutes of the second-half as New Zealand went for the kill and hit for two tries.
New Zealand went to the corner with a penalty just outside the 22 and were rewarded for the decision, going wide to the left and when they came back inside Li burst through Murphy’s tackle to score under the posts. Black converted to make it 18-3 and the game was gone from Ireland two minutes later when they were scrummaged off their own five-metre put-in and Blake Gibson scored in the left corner.
Black converted to make it 25-3 and it suddenly became a damage limitation exercise from there.
In fairness, Ireland never gave up and Murphy came close to scoring but was denied by a combination of Gibson and Tahuriorangi as Ireland finally got some ball going forward.
But New Zealand kept them out and then countered and finished the game deep inside the Irish half but could not add to their tally.
Ireland will play Wales next Monday in Viadana in the ‘semi-finals’ for fifth place. Scotland will play Australia, also in Viadana on Monday, in the other semi-final.
T Li (2), B Gibson tries, O Black 2 pens, 2 cons.
J Carbery pen
B Dardis (UCD); J Owens (QUB), G Ringrose (UCD), S Arnold (Ballynahinch), J Stockdale (QUB); J Carbery (UCD), N McCarthy (UCD) (capt); A Porter (UCD), S McNulty (UCD), O Heffernan (Terenure College); D O’Connor (St Mary’s), A Thompson (QUB); J Murphy (UCD), R Moloney (Buccs), L Dow (QUB).
L O’Connor (Cork Con) for Porter (10-18 blood & 66), C Rock (Old Belvedere) for McCarthy (35), T Quinlan (Cork Con) for Dardis (48), C O’Donnell (Sligo/NUIG) for Heffernan (52), C Romaine (Buccs) for Thompson (60), S McVeigh (Buccs) for Dow (60), A McBurney (Ballymena) for McNulty (66), F Cleary (Lansdowne) for Arnold (71).
L Laulala; V Tavae-Aso, Jack Goodhue, N Apa, T Li; O Black, T Toira Tahuriorangi; I Tu’ungafasi, L Polwart, A Moli; Joshua Goodhue, Hamish Dalzeil; J Blackwell, B Gibson, A Ioane.
R Riccitelli for Polwart (52), T Koloamatangi for Moli (52), M Hunt for Laulala (55), H Stowers for Ioane (59), A Ross for Tu’ungafasi (66), H Levien for Tahuriorangi (66), TJ Faiane for Jack Goodhue (66), M Dunshea for Joshua Goodhue (66).
Matthew Carley (England).