Nigel Carolan's Ireland were dominated 25-3 by New Zealand in the decisive match in Pool C of the U20 World Cup in Viadana last night.
They will have to settle down to the 5th-8th place play-offs, starting against Wales.
It was billed as boom or bust. The boom was lowered by the big, barging New Zealand forwards backed-up by a grease-lightning backline with threats everywhere along the road from nine-to-15, topped by the X-Factor finishing of wing Tevita Li.
The busts had to come, not from Ireland's talented three-quarters, but from their forwards. They had to get in behind to make sure they didn't fall behind.
Ireland knew any shade of a win over a country they had never beaten in any men's tournament would take them into the final four.
They started as ordered, owning the ball until Jack Goodhue's failure to react at ruck time. Fly-half Joey Carbery's penalty was short.
Next, hooker Sean McNulty connected with Alex Thompson at a lineout. Hamish Dalzell got sucked into a maul side entry. Carbery missed to the right.
Nonetheless, the tackles were flying in, centre Garry Ringrose reading the play superbly as he flew up out of the line.
Thompson's reactions out of touch meant turnover ball. Sam Arnold took the right option to kick long and Ringrose hammered Jack Goodhue into touch.
They could not take advantage until Rory Moloney's direct route forced another penalty for Carbery to make it 3-0 in the 16th minute.
The indiscipline Ireland couldn't afford allowed NZ position to create the space for left wing Li to splash down, moving two ahead in the 20th minute.
The many positives from Ireland's work, like Arnold's stiff carrying and Jacob Stockdale's angled ball into the corner, were undone by slipshod discipline.
Flanker Josh Murphy slipped his bind at a scrum to cough up three points to Black on the half-hour.
The tide was turning in favour of the four-time champions, prop Oisín Heffernan stooping for a vital poach for a penalty just before captain nick McCarthy departed with a shoulder injury.
Prop Andrew Porter's rash ruck work handed Black three more points to leave it 11-3 at the interval.
The killer penalty giveaways continued with Carbery launching a high risk up-and-under. It cost a penalty. NZ went for the corner. The attack ended with Li brushing off Murphy. Black converted for 18-3 in the 45th minute.
The kicking was getting looser. They were slipping off the tackles. A scrum caved. Number eight Akira Ioane drove and Blake Gibson made it the rest of the way.
Black's touchline conversion took them out of sight at 25-3 in the 50th minute.
Thereafter, Ireland were active in attack. There was precious little penetration. Murphy was held up over the line. Their only option seemed to be the lineout-maul in what was evidence of vanishing confidence.