Junior World Championship: Ireland Under-20s win to reach semi-finals

Andrew Porter prepares to score a try for Ireland Under-20
Andrew Porter prepares to score a try for Ireland Under-20

Ireland booked their place in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship semi-finals by beating 14-man Georgia 35-7 on Wednesday to finish top of Pool A.

The Georgians, appearing in their first tournament, led 7-0 early on but had flanker Ilia Spanderashvili sent off after just eight minutes.

Irish winger Hugo Keenan had just scored when the red card was issued and his side led 20-7 at the break.

Ireland go through to the last four for only the second time ever.

They will face Argentina in the semi-finals on Monday.

Georgia raced ahead as scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze touched down after a line-out maul, with out-half Davit Modzgvrishvili converting to put the Georgians 7-0 up after just six minutes.

Ireland take control after red card

But Ireland took control soon after as Keenan raced through to score his first try of the tournament.

In the build-up, Craig Evans consulted with the TMO after instruction from his touch judge and flanker Spanderashvili was found to have kicked out at Irish second-row Sean O'Connor and Evans produced a red card.

Jonny McPhillips converted the try to bring Ireland level on points with nine minutes played.

The fly-half kicked two penalties in quick succession after Keenan's try as Ireland looked to make the most of their numerical advantage.

Sean O'Connor attempts to make a break
Sean O'Connor attempts to escape the clutches of Lasha Tabidze

And McPhillips continued his scoring exploits as he grabbed Ireland's second try of the contest four minutes before the break, which he converted to give Ireland a commanding 20-7 lead.

A 54th-minute penalty from McPhillips further stretched the lead and Terry Kennedy notched the third try a few minutes later.

It took Ireland until the final play of the match to secure the bonus point victory as replacement Andrew Porter crossed and full-back Brett Connon converted to round off the victory.

Win over New Zealand created platform

Nigel Carolan's squad had stunned holders New Zealand on Saturday in Manchester to put themselves in line for a semi-final spot.

The success was their first ever win over New Zealand at an age-group world championship and helped them emerge winners of Pool A.

Head coach Carolan made 13 changes to the side that defeated New Zealand 33-24 for their final group game against Georgia at the Manchester City Academy Stadium.

Ireland defeated this season's Grand Slam winners Wales 26-25 in their opening game last week.

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