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Jack O'Sullivan powers Ireland U20s to bonus point win over Scotland

The powerful Munster number eight ran in two of Ireland’s four tries.

Ireland U20: 30

Scotland U20: 25

Sean Farrell reports from Donnybrook

IRELAND BOUNCED BACK from their madcap round three defeat to Wales, with a bonus point win over Scotland that had its own share of nerve-jangling moments.

Angus Curtis tackled by Robbie Smith Angus Curtis tackled by Robbie Smith Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Coming in the wake of a 79-point shoot-out and a close-run thing against 14-man Italy this win with a wire-to-wire lead was straightforward by comparison, but Noel McNamara’s men had to withstand spirited fightbacks from the visitors, who sensed victory right up until Jack O’Sullivan’s second try, a storming 75th minute effort.

O’Sullivan, responsible for two of Ireland’s tries in defeat a fortnight ago too, book-ended the hosts’ scoring on the night.

The powerful Munster man got Ireland off to the best possible start: off the back of a sound third-minute maul, powerful centre Angus Curtis broke the line and Hugh O’Sullivan ensured the visitors were given no time to settle, instantly supplying O’Sullivan with an invite to charge into contact and he wasn’t grounded before he could plant the ball beyond the try-line.

Jack O’Sullivan scores a try Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Harry Byrne added the easy conversion and, within two minutes, was sizing up his second kick of the night. Kyle Rowe’s speculative attempt at a grubber chase was hit squarely into Ireland fullback Michael Silvester. The Trinity man was then first to react to the ball bobbling in midfield, after making initial yards he found hooker Ronan Kelleher on a powerful burst. Scotland were stretched and strayed offside in the scramble. Byrne attempted a chip to wing Mark Keane to take full advantage, but Ireland had to be content with the three-pointer.

A 10 and then 13-point lead wasn’t quite enough to deter a Scotland side, like their senior counterparts, fresh from a win over England in round three. Ross Thompson slotted two penalties for his side in the first half, the second marking a fortunate escape for the hosts as Robbie Smith had gone close to a thrilling try having taken a loose line-out at full tilt.

Ireland responded to that dip well however, sparked by a superb counter-attacking run from Silvester. Though unable to convert the move in one sweep, Ireland’s pack dominated the resulting scrums in Scotland’s 22 and paved the way for openside Matthew Agnew to rumble over the line to leave Ireland with a half-time lead of 18 – 6.

Harry Byrne kicks a penalty Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Byrne’s radar was off for the converting kick before and then a straightforward penalty after the interval. Five points of a different kind were handed to Scotland on 52 minutes when Angus Kernohan went to ground too early and knocked Thompson’s territorial kick behind his own line for Rowe to finish.

Ireland rallied back with Matt Dalton bullying his way over the try-line, but the Scots felt the momentum in their corner as Martin Hughes forced his side’s second try, which when converted left just a five-point deficit between the sides, 23 – 18.

Ireland were able to stand firm against the waves of pressure, just.

First, a vital breakdown penalty was forced by Agnew. Then replacement scrum-half Jonny Stewart found himself instantly in the firing line, yet he stood up to the charging lock Jamie Hodgson and then reacted with lightning pace to cover off a chip through and thwarting Rowe from pouncing on a second try.

Jack O’Sullivan with Ross Thompson Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Those efforts gave Ireland the breathing space to set up camp once more in opposition territory, where O’Sullivan scorched through the tiring defensive line and celebrated a bonus point and a victory as he crossed the try-line.

Deservedly, Scotland did not leave empty-handed, a losing bonus point their reward as Nathan McBeth forced a late score.

Scorers

Ireland

Tries: J O’Sullivan (2), M Agnew, M Dalton

Conversions: H Byrne (1/3) C Dean (1/1)

Penalties: H Byrne (2/3)

Scotland:

Try: K Rowe, M Hughes, N McBeth

Conversion: R Thompson (2/3)

Penalties: R Thompson (2/2)

IRELAND U20: Michael Silvester; Angus Kernohan, Tommy O’Brien  (Capt), Angus Curtis, Mark Keane (James Huime ’65); Harry Byrne (Conor Dean ’63), Hugh O’Sullivan (Jonny Stewart ’63); James French (Jordan Duggan ’62), Ronan Kelleher (Eoghan Clarke ’22), Tom O’Toole (Jack Aungier ’63) , Matthew Dalton (Charlie Ryan ’78), Jack Dunne, Joe Dunleavy (Ronan Foley ’74), Matthew Agnew , Jack O’Sullivan .

SCOTLAND U20: Paddy Dewhirst; Rory McMichael (Logan Trotter  ’53), Fraser Strachan, Stafford McDowall, Kyle Rowe; Ross Thompson, Charlie Chapman; Shaun Gunn (Nathan McBeth ’53) , Robbie Smith (Bradley Clements ’32), Finlay Richardson (Murphy Walker ’71) , Ewan Johnson (Marshall Sykes ’59) , Jamie Hodgson, Martin Hughes, Rory Darge (Connor Boyle ’71) , Devante Onojaife.

Referee: L Cayre (France).

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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