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As it happened: Ireland v Australia, World Rugby U20 Championship

We’re going minute-by-minute as Ireland aim to build on their brilliant opening day win over England.

Good afternoon, fans of up-and-coming rugby talent.

Ireland U20 are up against Australia in the Argentinian outpost of Santa Fe at 14.30 Irish time (live on eir Sport 2).

A win will not only sustain a remarkable winning run for Noel McNamara’s Grand Slam winners, it would put them firmly in the driving seat in a teak tough pool.

Stay with us for teams, pre-match views and all the updates you can handle, or use the next 55 minutes to get yourself settled in front of a screen.

Here are the team-sheets for today’s match.

Both coaches have tried to make minimal changes despite the punishing four-day turnaround since opening day. Ireland have suffered further injuries to their group with Sean French and Iwan Hughes heading home, while Azur Allison is working through concussion return to play protocols.

Australia have gone with the very same XV that took skated past Italy, meaning Co. Louth-born scrum-half Michael McDonald is at the tip of an exciting green and gold back-line.


15. Rob Russell (Dublin University/Leinster)
14. Angus Kernohan (Queen’s University/Ulster)
13. Liam Turner (Dublin University/Leinster)
12. Stewart Moore (Malone/Ulster)
11. Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution/Munster)
10. Jake Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
9. Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster)

1. Josh Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster)
2. Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians/Connacht)
3. Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster)
4. Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster) (Capt)
5. Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster)
6. David McCann (Banbridge/Ulster)
7. Ronan Watters (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
8. John Hodnett (UCC/Munster)


16. John McKee (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
17. Michael Milne (UCD/Leinster)
18. Charlie Ward (Clontarf/Leinster)
19. Declan Adamson (Clontarf/Leinster)
20. Niall Murray (Buccaneers/Connacht)
22. Ciaran Booth (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)
23. Thomas Ahern (Shannon/Munster)
24. Colm Reilly (Buccaneers/Connacht)
25. Ben Healy (Garryowen/Munster)
26. Cormac Foley (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)


15. Isaac Lucas (Sunnybank)
14. Triston Reilly (Randwick)
13. Semisi Tupou (Box Hill)
12. Noah Lolesio (Tuggeranong Vikings)
11. Mark Nawaqanitawase (Eastwood)
10. Will Harrison (Randwick)
9. Michael McDonald (Palmyra)

1. Angus Bell (Sydney University)
2. Lachlan Lonergan (Tuggeranong Vikings)
3. Josh Nasser (University of Queensland)
4. Michael Wood (Brothers)
5. Trevor Hosea (Harlequins Rugby Club)
6. Harry Wilson (Brothers)
7. Fraser McReight (Brothers) (Capt).
8. Will Harris (Eastern Suburbs)


16. Joe Cotton (Wests Bulldogs)
17. Bo Abra (Eastern Suburbs)
18. Darcy Breen (Sydney University)
19. Rhys Van Nek, (Easts)
20. Esei Ha’angana (Melbourne Unicorns)
21. Pat Tafa (Northern Suburbs)
22. Nick Frost (Queanbeyan Whites)
23. Carlo Tizzano (University of Western Australia)
24. Henry Robertson (Sydney University)
25. Ben Donaldson (Randwick)
26. Sione Tui (Melbourne Unicorns)
27. Kye Oates (University of Queensland)
28. Joey Walton (Gordon)

You may have noticed that the time difference means this match is not kicking off at quite as sociable an hour as we’re watching it at.

It’s a 10.30am start in Santa Fe, but Noel McNamara wasn’t willing to dwell on any difficulty of playing at that time of day. As a former schools coach in Clongowes Wood, the Clare man feels his players aren’t so far removed from schoolboy rugby and its mid-morning kick-offs to find much strange about being done and dusted by lunchtime.

They’ll have had a hearty dinner last night to make sure they’re well fuelled for the 80 minutes ahead.

Here we go then, kick-off in Santa Fe.

3 mins: After a box-kicked exit, Ireland stand up well to Australia’s early attack.

A nice dinked grubber tests out the awareness of Rob Russell at fullback, but he scrambles well to gather.

His clearance isn’t perfect, it invites further pressure from the gold jersey, but the cover was the important part of his role there.

Clarkson picked out by the officials at a scrum set just outside the 22 and Australia have a shot at an early lead.

Penalty! Ireland 0 Australia 3 (Harrison ’5)

Good spell of possession for Ireland after going behind, but it’s a bit on the lateral side as they go through the hands around halfway.

The penalty comes and Flannery boots the ball down towards the Wallaby 22.

9 mins: Line-out goes long for Ireland, but Casey switches the play back to the short side brilliantly and Kernohan eats up yards to the try-line.

Ireland are held short, but another penalty comes.

Australia do well to defend Ireland’s would-be maul and the defence forces the green shirts back and the penalty goes the Wallabies’ way with the attack pinged for holding on.

13 mins: The gold jerseys stream across the field and they are just one clean pass away from a try after a beautiful pass set Hosea through a gap.

Fortunately, the clinical pass doesn’t come for Lonergan. Ireland scramble and defend stoutly for a run of phases before the devastating Dylan Tierney-Martin gets over the ball and forces a relieving penalty.

15 mins:  Ireland are on the wrong end of a few tackles which are veering over the high mark.

John Hodnett is horse-collared out on the left touchline after a promising set of phases and the yellow card comes out for Tupou

SIN-BIN: Semisi Tupou

With Flannery and Moore, Ireland try to put a varied shape on their attack after the penalty on Tupou gave them a platform in the 22. But after the initial cut, Australia’s speed off the line cuts off the path to wide areas.

Moore is caught as he doubles back and Australia force a knock on to ease the pressure.

17 mins: Ouch. Ronan Watters was the man whose knock-on halted play, but it’s a bad blow to the head as he dips low to carry that brings the error.

Ciaran Booth is on in place of the St Mary’s man.

Big Ryan Baird could be in trouble here. The powerful lock flew out of the line and his clatter on out-half Harrison looked too high on the jinking playmaker.

Australia mine a penalty out of the attack that followed and they have zero incentive to be impatient now while Tupou remains in the bin.

But a chink of light for Ireland, Harrison blazes the penalty wide left.

TRY!  Ireland 0 Australia 10 (Tui ’25)

Sione Tui, who was a late change to the Wallabies line-up, blazes a trail into the left corner as the gold shirts eat up the ground when running back a clearance kick.

Harrison nails the kick and Ireland are deep in the mire now.

31 mins: Ireland’s response to going down to 14 has been good.  They are patiently mounting phases and seeking heavy contact. If they’re going to find a way to win this time, it will be by reducing the field of play as much as they can.

Penalty is kicked to the corner and DTM hits Ryan in the line-out. Chance to really lay siege to the line now.

35 mins: The gold wall holds firm, but not without conceding a few offside penalties along the way.

Ryan opts to scrum with the penalty coming right in front of the posts.

TRY! Ireland 5 Australia 10 (Casey ’35)

Well, we had a bit of a wait there as the TMO reviewed what looked suspiciously like a held-up attempt by Casey on slow-mo, but there is nothing “clear and obvious” enough to over turn.

The Munster scrum-half took advantage of a free-kick behind the scrum and went rapidly at the line despite tacklers to his front and rear.

Flannery nailed the conversion to make it a maximum score for the 14 men.

Ireland 7 Australia 10

The half is almost at an end, but Jake Flannery is under scrutiny now for a dangerous looking clear out.

Angus Bell’s legs were vertical in the air for a long long time and the replay doesn’t do the Ireland 10 much favours.

But fortunately, after the TMO review, the referee decides that it’s a penalty only as Bell hit the ground on his back.

That seems a little lenient, and another let-off comes as Harrison’s penalty drifts right and wide.

HALF-TIME: Ireland 7 Australia 10

The second half is under way. Can Ireland continue to battle back against the odds?

Another superb set of phases from Ireland in attack. They’re doing very well to stretch Australia and vary the pace and width of their attack. DTM got loose midway through and was caught a touch high.

Australia come close to turning over and countering, but it’s regathered and the attack continues.

A hell of a stat flashes up on the board: 63% possession for Ireland 

48 mins: The seven-man scrum forces a penalty deep in the attacking 22.

And Ryan points for the corner.

49 mins: Angus Bell puts in a heavy hit to deny Hodnett driving over. But Ireland are not done yet.

The Munster man has another bite and gets a great leg drive going to round the corner and over the line.

Is it down though?

No time, they call this time. But the penaties keep coming and we’re back at the line-out.

50 mins: Immense pressure from Ireland on the gold line, but the Junior Wallabies are putting in a serious shift to slow them down.

A cheer goes up. Ireland think they have it down under the posts. 

Back to the TMO.

Josh Wycherley was over and celebrating, but there always seems to be a ready supply of gold shirts to get in under Irish carriers. 

The defensive pressure really beginning to tell as Ireland’s attack runs out of steam.

Australia force a breakdown penalty and celebrate it like a try, but IT’S REVERSED!

The official made an effort to warn the Wallabies for ‘goading’ in the first half.

PENALTY! Australia 10 Ireland 10 (Flannery ’55)

TRY! Australia 10 Ireland 15 (Moore ’56)

That is an unbelievable score in so many ways.

The Ulster centre fended off McDonald and stepped Harrison while feigning to pass outside to Turner. His pace and power took him beyond the Aussie captain McReight and he had plenty of gas in the tank to keep the legs pumping the final five metres over the try-line.

The 14 men have a full seven-point lead after  Healy’s conversion.

61 mins: Nothing says Ireland are sucking diesel like a perfectly executed choke tackle. Tupou runs up a blind alley and the green shirts swamp him and bring an end to Australia pressure.

This is an unbelievable effort from a team who continually confound expectation.

TRY! Australia 15 Ireland 17 (Lucas ’62)

Australia show slick hands and Tupou powers through a gap down Ireland’s left flank. The centre flicks the killer pass back inside to his support fullback and Harrison nails the conversion.

We’re all tied up again.

Ireland 17 Australia 17

TRY! Ireland 17 Australia 22 (Nawaqanitawase’63) 

That’s more like what you expect when 15 play 14. Lucas makes another break for Australia and he completes a cruel double tap by passing to Nawaqanitawase.

Ireland 17 Australia 24

TRY! Ireland 17 Australia 31 (Frost ’68)

Well, it was fun while it lasted. But Australia have suddenly started to shred Ireland’s spirited 14-man resistance.

From 17-10 to 17-31 in the space of five flippin’ minutes.

Louth’s own Michael McDonald had a pot shot from 56 metres – just to make sure Ireland don’t grab a losing bonus point it seems – but the scrum-half’s range is about 6 metres closer judging by that attempt.

TRY! Ireland 17 Australia 38 (Harrison ’77)

It’s salt-in-the-wound time as the Junior Wallaby 10 sneaks through a gap and races under the posts.

He turns and kicks the conversion himself.

Short a man for an hour and on the back of a four-day turnaround, this is unfortunately to be expected.

TRY!  Ireland 17 Australia 45 (Frost ’79)

Oh no.

The big replacement lock is rampaging through from 40 metres for a second time. 

The first hour’s performance is a distant memory as the gold shirts celebrate a rout.

FULL-TIME: Ireland 17 Australia 45

The 20-minute torture is over.

Ireland lose for the first time this year, but not without giving the Oceania champions a bit of a fright with 14 men along the way.

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