New Zealand U20's fall to clinical Ireland at World Championship

By Campbell Burnes

Jordie Barrett of New Zealand gets stuck in an Irish tackle in Manchester last night (NZT). Photo / Getty Images
Jordie Barrett of New Zealand gets stuck in an Irish tackle in Manchester last night (NZT). Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand's semifinal qualification chances for the World Rugby Under 20 Championship have just got very complicated after falling to Ireland 33-24 in Manchester this morning.

Scott Robertson's side scored four tries to three, but in truth they were second best for much of the clash against a fired-up and accurate Ireland outfit.

They will still be celebrating in the Emerald Isle after their senior side also upset South Africa in the Republic.

This famous Under 20s' upset represents the first time an Ireland national side has beaten New Zealand since their women tipped over the Black Ferns at the 2014 Rugby World Cup in France.

It now means that even if New Zealand defeat Wales in their final pool game on Thursday morning (NZT), they may still not be able to qualify as the best second-placed finisher to advance.

Ireland's line speed on defence troubled New Zealand all game as light rain fell, while their set-piece was dominant. Their captain and man of the match, lock James Ryan, led by example, they tackled like demons and played to their strengths in a tactically astute and gritty display. And unlike Wales last night against the All Blacks, they did not fade in the final quarter, keeping the pressure on. They essentially sealed the game in the 71st minute when No 8 Max Deegan had an impeded run to the line - courtesy of an awol Shaun Stevenson - from another wheeled, advancing scrum.

New Zealand again looked to spread the ball from the get-go, but Ireland's defence was rather stronger than Georgia's on Wednesday. However, second five Jordie Barrett did slice through on a good angle for the opening try. Wing Stevenson scored a superb solo try from a sweet chip and regather, but New Zealand were loose with their handling and passing and could not cope with Ireland's lineout drives, which produced two tries.
New Zealand's lineout then unravelled and it mattered not that wing Malo Tuitama was a constant threat with two tries.

Not even an injection of fresh legs from the bench, which was so effective for the All Blacks last night, could redress the balance.

In the final analysis, New Zealand were lucky to keep the margin to nine points. Twice they made trysaving tackles, Sam Nock in the first spell on the flying win Hugo Kiernan in the first stanza, and then Jordie Barrett holding up replacement Kelvin Brown over the line in the second.

In the other Pool B clash, Wales could only beat Georgia 10-9. The big upset of day two saw Argentina defeat South Africa 19-13.

Ireland 33 (Craig Jones, Adam McBurney, Max Deegan tries; Bill Johnston 2 con, 2 pen, Johnny McPhillips con, 2 pen) New Zealand 24 (Malo Tuitama 2, Jordie Barrett, Shaun Stevenson tries; Barrett 2 con) HT: 20-14

- NZ Herald

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