tbilisi cup

Inexperienced Emerging Ireland side labour to victory over Uruguay

Captain Rhys Ruddock lasted only 20 minutes before being replaced due to injury.

Emerging Ireland 33

Uruguay 7

A 14 MINUTE early onslaught was enough to put their second Tbilisi Cup fixture beyond all doubt as Uruguay shipped three early tries.

scanreid Out-half Rory Scannell attempts a break with Noel Reid in support.

However, the remaining 65 minutes were far from comfortable as Allen Clarke’s men were drawn in to a scrappy encounter by a South American side ramping up their World Cup preparation.

Cian Kelleher was at the heart of things on both sides of the ledger. The young flier scored and assisted the best Irish scores, but was also sin-binned before Uruguay forced their way to a penalty try.

By the time the Blue scrum celebrated though, Ireland knew they were already out of reach.

Andrew Conway ran in the opening try of the game off a Noel Reid pass after just five minutes on the back of disrupted maul.

Five minutes later, another line-out on the left side of the 22 paved the way for a second score. And this time the young green attack wasn’t forced to work through multiple phases as John Cooney sniped over from close range as the South Americans looked ready to fold.

Yet, despite the scoreboard reading 19 – 0 after Kelleher raced in to the right corner, Uruguay did not wilt.

With the scrum consistently challneging Stephen Archer and James Cronin, the young Irish backs did not react well to going on the back foot. Errors and penalties began to creep in to remove all momentum from the game. Though a late Irish push forced referee Marius Mitrea to lose patience with the mounting Uruguayan penalty count and, after blindside Augustin Alonso was sent to the sin-bin, the Irish pack were awarded a penalty try to make the score 26 – 0  on half-time.

Ireland's James Cronin Cronin carries in to contact. GRU / INPHO GRU / INPHO / INPHO

Emerging Italy were held scoreless in the opening fixture, but Emerging Ireland — deprived of captain Rhys Ruddock who left injured after 20 minutes – were eventually breached with some of their own medicine late in the second half.

After a long set of phases in the Irish 22, Kelleher was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on with Uruguay attempting to go wide. The penalty try arrived after six more minutes of pressure and scrummaging.

Ireland's Cian Kelleher Kelleher, who doesn't celebrate his 21st until August, shows off his step. GRU / INPHO GRU / INPHO / INPHO

Kelleher did manage to redeem himself before the full-time hooter, breaking through a midfield gap and showing off his searing pace and balance. The young utility back stepped twice to keep defenders guessing before timing his pass to perfection to find Ben Marshall on the gallop towards the posts.

Five tries and a second win after 10 changes for Clarke’s Emerging Ireland, but outside the first 15 minutes and final 15 seconds, there was little to celebrate in this dogfight.


Emerging Ireland

Tries: A Conway, J Cooney, C Kelleher, Penalty, B Marshall

Conversions: R Scannell (4)


Try: Penalty

Conversion: Alejo Durán

EMERGING IRELAND: Peter Nelson (Malone/Ulster); Cian Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster), Eoin Griffin (London Irish), Noel Reid (Clontarf/Leinster), Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster); Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), John Cooney (Terenure College/Connacht); James Cronin (Dolphin/Munster), Dave Heffernan (Buccaneers/Connacht), Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution/Munster), Andrew Browne (Galwegians/Connacht), Billy Holland (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) (capt), Frankie Taggart (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Eoghan Masterson (Corinthians/Connacht).

Replacements: Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Denis Buckley (Corinthians/Connacht), Andrew Warwick (Ballymena/Ulster), Ben Marshall (Old Belvedere/Connacht), Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster), Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster).

URUGUAY: Jerónimo Etcheverry; Leandro Leivas (capt), Joaquín Prada, Andrés Vilaseca, Santiago Gibernau; Alejo Durán, Agustín Ormaechea; Mateo Sanguinetti, German Kessler, Carlos Arboleya, Franco Lamanna, Mathias Palomeque, Agustin Alonso, Diego Magno, Alejandro Nieto.

Replacements: Nicolás Klappenbach, Mario Sagario, Alejo Corral, Santiago Vilaseca, Fernando Bascou, Mathias Braun, Manuel Blengio, Alberto Román.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)

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