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Ireland U20 made to work for semi-final spot by resolute 14-man Georgia

Nigel Carolan’s men had 72 minutes with a one-man advantage, but a hefty Georgia resistance was difficult to break down.

Captain Paul Kiernan carries.
Captain Paul Kiernan carries.
Image: Camerasport/Dave Howarth/INPHO

Ireland 35

Georgia 7

John Fallon reports from Manchester

IRELAND ARE THROUGH to the semi-finals of the World Rugby U20 Championship for the second time in the nine-year history of the competition.

But while they won easily in the end, Nigel Carolan’s side had to dig deep to see off the challenge of a brave Georgian side who had flanker Ilia Spanderashvili sent off after just eight minutes.

The Georgians enjoyed a brilliant start and raced into a shock 7-0 lead after just five minutes with skipper Vasil Lobzhanidze, who played in the World Cup in England last year, darted over for a try.

It was their first try in the competition after a 55-0 loss to New Zealand before they were pipped 10-9 by Six Nations champions Wales on Saturday.

Out-half Davit Modzgvrishvili converted but that was as good as it got the Georgians and it all unravelled three minutes later.

Irish winger Hugo Keenan stepped inside to finish off a fine move for their opening try. But before Johnny McPhillips, referee Craig Evans consulted his TMO on the advice of a touch judge and Spanderashvili was red-carded for lashing out at Irish lock Sean O’Connor.

That gave Irish a huge advantage, but it took them time to make it count as Georgia, appearing in their first tournament, battled bravely.

Cillian Gallagher Source: Camerasport/Dave Howarth/INPHO

McPhillips converted and then edged Ireland into a lead they never lost with a brace of penalties.

But it wasn’t until four minutes from the break that Ireland put daylight between them when their patience was rewarded and McPhillips supplied a good finish. His conversion made it 20-7 at the break.

McPhillips, the out-half during the Six Nations and who has taken over the pivotal role following the tournament-ending injury to Bill Johnston on Saturday, extended the lead with a penalty after 54 minutes.

They continued to wear down the Georgians and Terry Kennedy, son of the former Irish winger Terry, scored their third try when he finished off a good move involving McPhillips, Brett Connon, Greg Jones and Jimmy O’Brien.

Ireland had to wait until the final play to secure their first bonus point of the tournament when replacement prop Andrew Porter got over, with Brett Connon converting from the left wing.

Ireland scorers

Tries: Hugo Keenan, Johnny McPhillips, Terry Kennedy, Andrew Porter
Conversions: Jonny McPhillips (2), Brett Connon
Penalties: Jonny McPhillips (3)

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Georgia scorers

Tries: Vasil Lobzhanidze
Conversion: David Modzgvrishvili

Ireland U20: Brett Connon (Newcastle Falcons); Terry Kennedy (St.Mary’s/Leinster), Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Paul Kiernan (UCC/Munster) (Shane Daly (Cork Con/Munster) ’64), Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster) (Jacob Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) ’64); Johnny McPhillips (Queen’s University/Ulster), Niall Saunders (Harlequins) (Stephen Kerins (Sligo/Connacht) ’73);

James Bollard (Dublin University/Leinster) (Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) ’49), Vincent O’Brien (Cork Con/Munster), Vakh Abdaladze (Clontarf/Leinster) (Adam Coyle (Naas/Leinster) ’49); Evan Mintern (Cork Con/Munster), Sean O’Connor (Cashel/Munster); Greg Jones (UCD/Leinster) (Cillian Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht) ’59) (Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster) ’73), Conall Boomer (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) (Cillian Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht) ’25-’30), Kelvin Brown (Shannon/Munster) (Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster) ’18).

Georgia U20: Mirian Modebadze; Lado Miminoshvili (Gela Afrasidze ’55), Giorgi Koshadze (Rati Shanidze ’57), Giorgi Kveseladze, Sandro Merkvilishvili; David Modzgvrishvili, Vasil Lobzhanidze (Sandro Iluridze ’70);

Tornike Mataradze (Luka Goginava ’48), Lasha Sajaia (Giorgi Khuroshvili ’48), Lasha Tabidze (Giorgi Melikidze ’54); Mikheil Babunashvili (Irakli Tskhadadze ’39), Otar Giorgadze (Demur Epremidze ’25); Ilia Spanderashvili, Giorgi Tsutskiridze, Beka Gorgadze.

Referee: C Evans (Wales)

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John Fallon

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