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Ireland U20s Junior World Championship campaign ends with Aussie defeat

Mike Ruddock’s young charges gave up a 20-point lead before battling back in the second-half.

Rory Scholes encounters a blanket Australia defence.
Rory Scholes encounters a blanket Australia defence.
Image: ©INPHO/Fred Porcu

A JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP that began with victory over Australia and set up semi-final dreams has concluded with defeat to the same opponents and an eighth place finish.

Mike Ruddock’s men, who narrowly missed out on a last four spot due to an inferior points difference, were beaten by hosts France midweek and lost to the junior Wallabies 28-17.

The Wolfpuppies were 20-0 down at one stage in the first half before registering a penalty just before the break. A Rory Scannell penalty made it 20-6 before Rory Scholes of Ulster crossed over for Ireland’s first try of the game.

The nine-point gap was not entirely insurmountable, in Irish eyes, and they began to snap more in the tackle and scrap more at the breakdown. Luke Burton, however, took the wind out of their sails with a penalty to make it 23-11 with 20 minutes remaining.

Scannell slotted over two penalties to give Ireland hope of a seventh place finish. Ruddock’s men needed a converted try to clinch a comeback win but Aussie winger Alex Northam was on hand to finish off a sweeping backline move and settle the tie.

The JWC Final is being contested by Wales and England.

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Patrick McCarry

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