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Ireland U20s impress in Scotland to make it two from two in the Six Nations

Outside centre Liam Turner was man of the match in a three-try win over Scotland.

Scotland 5

Ireland 24

Murray Kinsella reports from Netherdale, Galashiels

AN UNTELEVISED GAME meant Ireland U20s were slightly under the radar tonight but a second win in two Six Nations games underlined the rich potential of Noel McNamara’s men.

David Hawkshaw and Ross Thompson Ireland captain David Hawkshaw offloads. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

With a strong wind blowing in Galashiels, tries from hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin, number eight John Hodnett and left wing Jonathan Wren, as well as four kicks from out-half Harry Byrne, allowed Ireland to follow up last weekend’s win over England with a comfortable victory over Scotland.

Their defensive effort was outstanding as the likes of props Thomas Clarkson and Josh Wycherley, explosive openside Scott Penny, and the superb Tierney-Martin led the physical onslaught.

The blustery conditions and intermittent rain made life tricky but Ireland still showed their attacking intent as outside centre Liam Turner shone and was deservedly named man of the match.

The captain of last year’s Leinster Schools Senior Cup-winning Blackrock side, Turner was a thrill to watch with ball in hand, while his communication and defensive reads were always accurate. The Trinity man is a real talent.

Last weekend’s 35-27 win over the English had seen Ireland travel to Netherdal with confidence and they were the more composed side throughout as out-half Byrne and captain David Hawkshaw calmly steered the ship, while impressive second row Charlie Ryan led the way up front.

Wren’s try was a particular highlight as the Cork Con wing skinned two defenders down the left-hand touchline and swerving inside to finish, showing stunning pace and balance to allow Byrne to slot another conversion with the final act of the game.

Scrum-half Colm Reilly of Buccanneers got a debut off the bench for Ireland on what was a satisfying night for McNamara and his coaches – who will again see scope for improvement ahead of the trip to Italy in two weekends’ time.

Liam Turner and Robbie McCallum Liam Turner makes a break for Ireland. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Playing with the strong strong wind behind them in the first-half, Ireland opened the scoring in the seventh minute as powerful carries from Hawkshaw and Wycherley led to the Scots creeping offside and Byrne slotted the three points.

The hosts tested Ireland’s defence severely in response but with Turner organising out wide and the likes of Clarkson, Tierney-Martin, Penny and Wycherley hammering into tackles closer to the rucks, McNamara’s men coped.

The wind prevented Scotland out-half Ross Thompson from firing over an 18th-minute penalty before Ireland were clinical with their next 22 visit.

It started with a scything Turner break following some fine handling by Tierney-Martin and lock Niall Murray, with Penny then held up just over the tryline. But Ireland pounced from the five-metre scrum, as Hawkshaw and Hodnett carried before Tierney-Martin powered over from close-range, with Byrne converting.

Ireland’s maul defence was struggling, however, and it took a determined rescuing tackle from Wren to prevent Scotland hooker Ewan Ashman from finishing off the back of a particularly excellent effort, the Irish wing forcing a knock-on.

Turner continued to threaten with every touch but Scotland were dangerous too, Ireland left wing Jonathan Wren required to sweep across in the backfield and make a timely gather of the bouncing ball as Scot wing Jack Blain thundered towards it.

Kwagga Van Niekirk and Thomas Clarkson Tighthead prop Thomas Clarkson carries for Ireland. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ireland’s 10-0 lead at the break wasn’t perhaps an indication of the advantage the wind had given them in the opening half, but the visitors dominated possession early in the second with little reward, Wycherley losing the slippery ball forward in the shadow of the posts after a promising attack launched by fullback Jake Flannery’s kick return. 

The pressure finally told in the 60th minute, however, as Penny made a searing midfield linebreak and linked to the energetic Turner to bring Ireland within 10 metres. 

They were patient and direct with their carries from there, Clarkson making vital metres before number eight Hodnett blasted over from close-range, allowing Byrne to convert for 17-0. 

The Scots did muster a response in the closing 10 minutes of the game as captain Connor Boyle worked his way over from a five-metre lineout but Ireland weren’t to be denied a precious win on the road. 

There was still time for Wren’s late show of his attacking quality and Byrne maintained his 100% record off the tee.

Scotland scorers:

Tries: Connor Boyle

Conversions: Nathan Chamberlain [0 from 1]

Penalties: Ross Thompson [0 from 1]

Ireland scorers:

Tries: Dylan Tierney-Martin, John Hodnett, Jonathan Wren

Conversions: Harry Byrne [3 from 3]

Penalties: Harry Byrne [1 from 1]

SCOTLAND U20: Rufus McLean; Rory McMichael, Cameron Anderson (Matt Davidson ’49), Robbie McCallum (yellow card ’46), Jack Blain; Ross Thompson (Nathan Chamberlain ’46), Roan Frostwick (Kyle McGhie ’61); Murphy Walker (Andrew Nimmo ’33), Ewan Ashman (Angus Fraser ’64), Euan McLaren (Will Hurd ’64); Ewan Johnson (Ross Bundy ’61), Cameron Henderson; Charlie Jupp, Connor Boyle (captain), Kwagga van Nierkirk (Jack Mann ’57).

IRELAND U20: Jake Flannery; Conor Phillips (Rob Russell ’65), Liam Turner, David Hawkshaw (captain), Jonathan Wren; Harry Byrne, Cormac Foley (Colm Reilly ’63); Josh Wycherley (Michael Milne ’63), Dylan Tierney-Martin (John McKee ’63), Thomas Clarkson; Charlie Ryan, Niall Murray; Martin Moloney, Scott Penny (David McCann ’64), John Hodnett.

Replacements not used: Luke Masters, Brian Deeny, Sean French. 

Referee: Andrea Piardi [FIR].

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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