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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020
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Louth native McDonald helps Australia U20s to thumping win over Italy

The Western Australia scrum-half will face the country of his birth next up on Saturday.

IRISH-BORN SCRUM-half Michael McDonald helped the junior Wallabies to a winning start in this year’s World Rugby U20 Championship as they powered to a 36-12 victory over Italy.

Registered with Dundalk RFC before his family moved to Australia when he was 13, McDonald has earned himself a regular starting berth with the green and gold age grade side. Today, his sharp offload created the breakthrough try for Will Harris in the seventh minute of the curtain-raiser in Santa Fe.

McDonald was put under pressure behind a creaking Australia scrum as half-time approached, but Italy were unable to make the set-piece advantage count. Noah Lelesio pierced through the middle and raced from deep in his own half before releasing a grubber for Mark Nawaqanitawase to chase. The flying wing didn’t quite make the try-line, but Australia recycled to set up Lachlan Lonergan for a try that gave Australia a commanding 17-0 half-time lead.

After Triston Reilly extended the lead before the hour mark, McDonald set number 10 Will Harrison away through a midfield gap and he provided Lonergan’s second try.

With the floodgates open, Isaac Lucas’ terrific offload allowed Lelesio canter in to ring up 36 unanswered points for the junior Wallabies before Italy grabbed late consolations through Niccolo Taddia and Jacopo Trulla.

Australia will face Ireland next up on Saturday, after Noel McNamara’s men open their own Pool B run against England this evening (kick-off 19.30 Irish time).

In this morning’s other U20 World Cup match, South Africa grabbed control of Pool C with a 43-19 win over Scotland.

New Zealand take on Georgia and Wales meet hosts Argentina in the 5pm kick-offs.

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Sean Farrell

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