The World Rugby U20 Championships is about more than just results. It's about exposing players to a particular standard, building experience as well as discipline. Today's pool clash between Ireland and Australia epitomised that.
Speaking to Balls.ie earlier this year, head coach Noel McNamara explained why this level is so important.
It’s two-fold. We want to find a sweet spot. We obviously want to be competitive, we want to win as many games as we can. Equally, we are a pathway team, we want to develop players.
The Junior Wallabies had the upper hand from early on after Ireland had Ryan Baird sent off. But the referee made an interesting decision in the second half that benefitted McNamara's outfit.
After ten minutes in the second half, Ireland were behind 10-7 with 86% possession. They elected to go to the corner instead of taking points but lost a scrum of their own feed. Soon after, they conceded a penalty.
It was then the Australian youngsters decided to over-celebrate the decision, whooping and clapping in the face of their opponents. The referee immediately reversed the decision and gave Ireland the penalty.
— James Neville (@2__Stat) June 8, 2019
"I warned you in the first half about goading. He is clapping in the face of his opponent, I'm giving the penalty to Ireland," said the referee, allowing Jake Flannery to kick the points and tie the game.
Ireland were in store for a tough lesson of their own. Having fought back to lead 17-10 thanks to a brilliant Stewart Moore try, they ran out of gas and it all unravelled.
"What a try from the Ulster centre!"
Australia U20s 10-17 IRELAND U20s
— eir Sport (@eirSport) June 8, 2019
Within 17 minutes, Australia scored 35 points to secure a comfortable 45 - 17 victory. It included an outstanding individual score from 19-year-old Nick Frost who, with the score at 24-17, caught a re-start and stormed all the way to the try line.
Ireland take on Italy next Wednesday in a bid to get their Pool B aspirations back on track.