Monday 18 December 2017

Drop goals seal U20s win over Wales

Captain Paddy Jackson and replacement scrum-half Luke McGrath kicked one drop goal each in the space of three minutes to seal Ireland's 11-6 win over Wales in the U20 Six Nations at Dubarry Park last night.

Jackson spared his blushes for three missed penalties, two in the first five minutes, the second rebounding off the upright, as Ireland dominated the ball without any tangible reward.

As is so often the case, Wales crept downfield for fly-half Sam Davies to strike a drop goal for the lead in the 20th minute in what was their only attack of the half. Ireland went straight back onto the front-foot for JJ Hanrahan's slashing break and long pass to put full-back Shane Layden over on the right.

Really, Ireland should have been further than 5-3 ahead at the interval. The match degenerated into a scrappy affair with both sides more inclined to drop the ball than hold it.

The Irish continued to edge it, with their back five, led by lock Iain Henderson and number eight Jack Conan, marauding all over Wales, who had a superb openside in Daniel Thomas.

Still, Ireland did not make their advantage tell. Replacement Lewis Williams kicked Wales into the lead from a penalty in the 66th minute.

Immediately, Jackson was wide from a simple penalty. Undeterred, he was back for more in the 70th minute to slot a drop goal following a superb break by Layden.

Anything he could do replacement McGrath could do just as well, and he hit a snap drop goal two minutes later for a five-point lead which they held right to the end.

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