NIGEL CAROLAN’S IRELAND U20s have made history by beating New Zealand for the first time ever, scoring three tries in a stunning 33-24 win in Manchester.
Ireland delivered a sublime performance in the rain just four days after a surprise win over Grand Slam champions Wales at the World Rugby U20 Championship.
It was the Kiwis who had the better start, with centre Jordie Barrett crossing on a direct line to cancel out Bill Johnston’s early penalty for Ireland.
Barrett converted his own try from close to the posts and then added the two points after his offload sent fullback Shaun Stevenson scorching down the right-hand touchline to chip ahead and then round Matthew Byrne.
That try came with Ireland hooker Adam McBurney in the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.
But the 14-man Irish response was superb as Johnston kicked them to within five metres and the maul powered up to result in Greg Jones dotting down.
Johnston converted brilliantly – having added a second penalty earlier in the half – and then Ireland forced their way into the lead with another try stemming from the maul.
McBurney returned from his yellow card to major effect, breaking off the drive to power his way over.
Again, the brilliant Johnston converted from out wide but Ireland suffered the heavy blow of losing the Munster out-half to a shoulder injury just before the break.
However, Ireland’s defence muscled up in the opening exchanges of the second half, with Shane Daly producing this massive hit.
The Kiwis continued to attack with intent and incision in the pouring rain and some quick hands freed wing Jonathan Taumateine to score in the left corner.
Ireland’s scrum was a dominant force though, with loosehead Andrew Porter taking the New Zealand pack apart in the set-piece, and it proved to be the foundation for Ireland’s third try.