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Ruthless first-half performance sends Ireland to first U20 Championship final

Three first-half tries set Nigel Carolan’s side on the way to a memorable win.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated at 21.35

Ireland U20s 37
Argentina U20s 7

John Fallon reports from Manchester 

THEY HAVE BEEN creating new records all month and now Nigel Carolan’s superb U20 side are just 80 minutes away from securing the country’s first ever men’s world championship.

And the manner in which they brushed aside Argentina suggests this is a side which is continuing to improve and now need just one more major performance at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday evening and they will be going home with silverware.

Ireland could hardly have dreamt for a better start to this World Rugby U-20 Championship semi-final as they shredded the Argentines to race into a 21-0 lead after less than half an hour.

It was devastating stuff from Nigel Carolan’s men whose line-running and handling was superior.

But with Los Pumitas enjoying 3kg a man heavier in the pack it was important that Ireland didn’t get sucked into a battle.

Andrew Porter and Franco Molina Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The blustery conditions at Manchester City Academy Stadium made kicking difficult but Ireland hit the front from a penalty to the left corner from Johnny McPhillips.

The driving maul was held up so McPhillips went with a crosskick which Matthew Byrne took to feed Jacob Stockdale and he managed to get over. McPhillips converted from the right for 7-0 after eight minutes.

Argentine out-half Domingo Miotti was off target with a penalty and it was Ireland who extended their lead when No.8 Max Deegan intercepted a pass from scrum-half Patricio Baronio and raced from his own 22 to score, escaping the despairing effort of out-half Miotti.

McPhillips converted from the left touchline this time to make it 14-0 after 23 minutes.

There was a further boost for Ireland when they superbly defended an Argentine penalty to the left corner, clearing their lines after winning a penalty.

And they looked set for a place in the final for the first time when another superb move across the middle of the pitch after a lineout take from skipper James Ryan saw Hugo Keenan step inside to send Stockdale away for his second try, with McPhillips’ conversion making it 21-0 after 29 minutes.

Jacob Stockdale scores the first try Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

But Argentina came right back into contention just before the break when Miotti sent a grubbed through after a good move off a penalty lineout and his captain Juan Cruz Mallia got over to score.

Miotti converted to make it 21-7 at the break.

The next score was going to be crucial and while Argentina had more intend after the restart, it was Ireland, now firmly on top in the scrum,  who extended their lead when McPhillips landed a penalty from 30 metres after 52 minutes to make it 24-7.

He was off target with his first kick of the night four minutes later from just inside halfway as Ireland pressed forward with Andrew Porter, Max Deegan, James Ryan and Greg Jones outstanding.

McPhillips put 20 points between them with 18 minutes left as a tiring Argentina side coughed up penalties.

Argentina were reduced to 14 men when replacement prop Santiago Mare was red-carded for a headbutt on Irish lock Sean O’Connor.

And Ireland finished in style with Shane Daly intercepting inside the Argentine 22 to go over for their fourth try, with Brett Connon converting.

Ireland will play hosts England in the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship at the AJ Bell Stadium in Manchester on Saturday evening (7pm).

England defeated South Africa 39-17 in the second semi-final at Manchester City Academy Stadium on Monday night.

Scorers

Ireland

Tries: Jacob Stockdale (2), Max Deegan, Shane Daly

Penalties: Johnny McPhillips (3)

Conversions: Johnny McPhillips (3), Brett Connon.

Argentina

Try: Juan Cruz Mallia

Conversion: Domingo Miotti

Ireland: Jacob Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); Matthew Byrne (Terenure College/Leinster), Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster), Conor O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster) (Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) ’60), Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster); Johnny McPhillips (Queen’s University/Ulster) (Brett Connon (Newcastle Falcons/Exiles) ’72), Stephen Kerins (Sligo/Connacht) (Niall Saunders (Harlequins/Exiles) ’72);

Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) (James Bollard (Dublin University/Leinster) ’72), Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster) (Vincent O’Brien (Cork Constitution/Munster) ’65), Ben Betts (Young Munster/Munster)(Adam Coyle (Naas/Leinster) ’72), Sean O’Connor (Cashel/Munster), James Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster) (Evan Mintern (Cork Constitution/Munster) ’72), Greg Jones (UCD/Leinster) (Kelvin Brown (Shannon/Munster) ’72), David Aspil (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster).

Argentina: Bautista Delguy; Tomas Malanos, Juan Cruz Mallia, Santiago Mare (Nicolas Osadczuk ’51), Julian Dominguez; Domingo Miotti (Martin Elias ’60), Patricio Baronio (Lautaro Bazan Velez ’46);

Ruben Ricco (Santiago Pulella ’60), Gaspar Baldunciel (Roman Pretz ’65), Santiago Medrano (Gonzalo del Pazo ’54); Franco Molina, Ignacio Calas (Conrado Roura ’46); Marcos Kremer, Mariano Romanini (Ricco ’76), Vicente Boronat (Bautista Stavile Bravin ’53)

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (.England)

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