Ireland ran in seven tries to end their Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series on a high with a 41-24 win over Scotland that condemned their opponents to a 14th consecutive defeat, writes Josh Graham in Treviso.
Both sides finished fourth in their Pools but it was Scotland who came into this one winless after Ireland’s one-point victory over England last time out and it showed from the off.
Five first-half tries in just 22 minutes from Daniel Hawkshaw, Scott Wilson, Aitzol King, Sam Prendergast and Fionn Gibbons gave Ireland a 29-14 lead at the break, Scotland staying in touch thanks to hooker Patrick Harrison’s double from close range.
Ioan Cunningham’s penalty closed the gap to 12 in the second half but tries for Diarmuid Mangan and sub Shay McCarthy put the result beyond doubt despite No.8 Ollie Leatherbarrow crossing for Scotland.
Ireland made a blistering start under the midday sun in Treviso as inside centre Hawkshaw scythed through the Scottish defence to score in the first minute.
The Men in Green dominated possession and territory and refused to take their foot off the gas, kicking to the corner every time Scotland infringed.
And when the maul was brought down just short, prop Wilson was the beneficiary as he burrowed over from close range. Fly-half Prendergast added his second simple conversion to make it 14-0 after ten minutes.
Scotland wasted their first attacking platform after losing a lineout deep inside the Irish 22 and they were soon made to pay as Ireland whipped the ball through the hands, flanker Mangan making the most of the overlap to set winger King away for the third try.
Prendergast missed the extras but was soon carving through with a mazy run of his own that ended just short of the tryline.
Scotland killed the ball at the resulting ruck and openside Gregor Hiddleston was sent to the sin bin by referee Benoit Rousselet.
Ireland wasted no time in utilising their numerical advantage, Prendergast the beneficiary of an easy run-in after the forwards had again mauled them close.
Scotland’s first period of sustained possession in the 22 led to their first points on the scoreboard as hooker Harrison surged over but they were criminally caught napping by Prendergast’s fast restart which Gibson collected and finished to make it 29-7.
Mangan was sent to the sin bin for slowing down promising Scottish attacking ball five metres out but it was not until he returned that Harrison grabbed his second from close range with fly-half Cunningham striking his second impressive touchline conversion to reduce the deficit to 15 at half-time.
Cunningham’s penalty got Scotland to within 12 as they threatened a comeback but any chance of that was extinguished by their own negligence as they failed to learn from their mistakes.
After conceding a penalty five metres from their line, the Scotland defence switched off and failed to reorganise as replacement scrum-half Michael Moloney’s quick tap and pass gave Mangan an easy try.
Things got worse for Kenny Murray’s men when centre Duncan Munn was yellow carded for not releasing the tackler as Ireland piled on the pressure at the tryline.
The peerless Prendergast then showed all the considerable skills in his locker by unleashing a pinpoint cross-field for replacement winger McCarthy to gather and score.
Scotland immediately hit back as workhorse Ollie Leatherbarrow showed immense strength to burst over the line and Ireland had another chalked off as Prendergast’s pass was adjudged to have gone forward, but it mattered little as they finished comfortable victors.
The Six Nations Under-20 Summer Series takes place from 24 June – 12 July. Fans can watch every match live. For more information visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJHm6BFw-9JRA1CMekNLwMg