Rugby: Irish make it tough in playoff

By Campbell Burnes

New Zealand 1st-five Richie Mo’unga in action against Ireland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
New Zealand 1st-five Richie Mo’unga in action against Ireland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

New Zealand 45
Ireland 23

The New Zealand Under 20s will have to be content with third place in the Junior World Championship.

They tried to play as much rugby as possible but were held in check for large tracts of the bronze playoff last night by the Ireland pack and the whistle of referee Alexandre Ruiz.

We shouldn't have been surprised.

Ireland pushed New Zealand to 31-26 in the 2013 JWC, and have been full value in the last three weeks. They even led at halftime here.

That New Zealand eventually pulled clear was down to the clear superiority of their backline.

Tevita Li scored New Zealand's first try, his sixth of the tournament. He added another and could even have scored four.

Man of the match Richie Mo'unga, who started at first five and finished at fullback, scored two tries.

Lock James Tucker had an equally eventful night, sinbinned once for pulling down a maul, crossing the line twice for one try, and winning his share of lineouts. Flanker Lachlan Boshier was also in prime form.

The next two New Zealand tries originated from Damian McKenzie high ball takes, the Irish persisting with the Garryowen, as South Africa did in the semifinal.

Ireland's pack was up to the task, their solid scrum taking no nonsense in the forward exchanges.

Australia clinched fifth position, two better than they managed in 2013, coming from behind to beat France 34-27 in the early Eden Park match.

New Zealand 45 (Tevita Li 2, Richie Mo'unga 2, James Tucker, Mitch Drummond, Lachlan Boshier tries; Damian McKenzie 5 cons)

Ireland 23 (Penalty try, Oisin Heffernan; Ross Byrne 2 cons, 3 pens) HT: 21-23

- NZ Herald

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