Ireland 37 Argentina 7: Irish coach Nigel Carolan says they will treat next Saturday’s World Rugby U-20 Championship final in much the same way as they have approached every other game in the tournament and try not to dwell on the significance of their appearance.
Carolan’s men blew Argentina away with a devastating display at Manchester City Academy Stadium and are now just 80 minutes away from being the first men’s side from the country to lift a World Cup.
But Carolan is determined not to let the occasion get to his superb young side and they will prepare for this in similar fashion as they have for any other game in this unforgettable season.
“Our preparation on and off the field has been the exact same for every game. We have been very much a one-game team. “We are going to try and keep that focus and nothing is going to change in terms of our recovery, our preparation, our analysis.
“We are just trying to keep the same process there so it feels the same for the lads. Obviously it is going to be a big occasion on Saturday but hopefully we can just enjoy it as much as we can and make an imprint on the game.” The policy has served them well and since losing their opening games in the Six Nations they have now won seven on the spin, becoming more convincing with each victory.
They have had to come from behind in a lot of those wins but they had Argentina buried by the half hour last evening when they led 21-0.
They had the upperhand in the set-piece throughout — no mean achievement against a pack with a 3kg per man advantage — and turned the screw with every opportunity.
With skipper James Ryan leading the onslaught, they led from the outset.
A superb start by Ireland saw them lead by 21-7 at the break after taking the game to Argentina from the outset.
And they got a superb start when full-back Jacob Stockdale got over for a try after eight minutes after an excellent crosskick from out-half Johnny McPhillips.
Ireland doubled their lead after 23 minutes when No.8 Deegan intercepted a pass on his 22 and had the legs to go all the way and score in the left corner. And Carolan’s men turned the screw just before the half hour mark in a superb backline movement where both wingers Matthew Byrne and Hugo Keenan were involved to send Ulster’s Stockdale away for his second try, with McPhillips kicking his third conversion.
But Ireland were given a glimpse of the cutting edge which saw Argentina also win all three pool games when out-half Domingo Miotti put his captain Juan Cruz Mallia over a minute from the break for a converted try which left it 21-7 at the break.
It was crucial that Ireland got the next score and McPhillips duly delivered with a penalty from 30m after 52 minutes to make it 24-7.
He followed that up with two more and Ireland led 30-7 with just 15 minutes remaining.
English referee Craig Maxwell-Keys gave Pulella a straight red when he head-butted Sean O’Connor at a maul in the 72nd minute, and Argentina knew the game was up.
Even Vincent O’Brien’s yellow card couldn’t dampen the occasion for Ireland, and Shane Daly intercepted a stray pass to increase the margin late on. It was a great way to round off a superb night when Ireland took a huge step forward in their quest for overdue silverware.
“There’s great belief and great confidence in knowing what they are doing,” added Carolan. “It’s where they deserve to be. It’s what dreams are made of but I think we can do well on Saturday.
“We are going to have a really good chance. There are a few bumps and bruises today but I think there is more in this side.” And we shall see at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday evening as this fantastic young side bid to go one more step.
Scorers for Ireland:
Tries: J Stockdale (2), M Deegan, S Daly; Cons: J McPhillips (3), B Connon; Pens: J McPhillips (3).
Scorers for Argentina:
Try: J Cruz Mallia; Con: D Miotti.
J Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); M Byrne (Terenure College/Leinster), S Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster), C O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster), H Keenan (UCD/Leinster); J McPhillips (Queen’s University/Ulster), S Kerins (Sligo/ Connacht); A Porter (UCD/Leinster), A McBurney (Ballymena / Ulster), B Betts (Young Munster/Munster); S O’Connor (Cashel/Munster), J Ryan (Lansdowne/ Leinster); G Jones (UCD/Leinster), D Aspil (St Mary’s College/Leinster), M Deegan (Lansdowne / Leinster).
J O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) for C O’Brien (60), V O’Brien (Cork Constitution/Munster) for McBurney (65), B Connon (Newcastle Falcons / Exiles) for McPhillips (72), A Coyle (Naas/Leinster) for Betts (72), N Saunders (Harlequins/Exiles) for Kerins (72), J Bollard (Dublin University/Leinster) for Porter (72), E Mintern (Cork Constitution/Munster) for Ryan (72), K Brown (Shannon/Munster) for Jones (72).
B Delguy; T Malanos, J Cruz Mallia, S Mare, J Dominguez; D Miotti, P Baronio; R Ricco, G Baldunciel, S Medrano; F Molina, I Calas; M Kremer, M Romanini, V Boronat.
C Roura for Calas (46), L Bazan Velez for Baronio (46), M Osadczuk for Mare (51), B Stavile Bravin for Boronat (53), G Del Pazo for Medrano (54), S Pulella for Ricco (60), M Elias for Miotti (60), R Pretz for Baldunciel (65), Ricco for Romanini (76).
Craig Maxwell-Keys (England).
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