World U20s 2015: Tomás Quinlan steals opening win for Ireland U20
Cork Con out-half nails last-minute touchline penalty on his debut to edge out Los Pumitas 18-16 in Parma
Tomás Quinlan kicked Ireland to an opening victory against Argentina in Pool C of the World Rugby U20 Championship at the Stadio Lanfranchi in Parma.
I was certainly happy with the amount of opportunities we created, particularly in the first half, and if it was represented on the scoreboard it might have been a different game.
It may not have been the winning score in a final, but the penalty to give Ireland U20 an 18-16 win will live long in the memory of the Cork Con youngster, who entered the field for his U20 debut just minutes earlier.
Los Pumitas looked assured of a famous win when Emiliano Boffelli landed a 77th-minute penalty after a heavy period of pressure on the Irish defence, but last-year’s semi-finalists had other ideas and Quinlan’s kick from the left touchline sailed over with authority.
“I am happy with the result,” Carolan told World Rugby’s website.
“I was certainly happy with the amount of opportunities we created, particularly in the first half, and if it was represented on the scoreboard it might have been a different game.
“I thought the character our team showed at the end to get back to get the penalty I thought it was tremendous work rate and effort.”
Carolan’s side led 9-6 at the break with UCD outside-half Joey Carbery making the most of his chance at 10 in the absence of injured Ross Byrne, landing three penalties to a penalty and drop-goal from Domingo Miotti, but Ireland should have been further ahead had handling errors – and some determined defensive efforts from the Argentines – not thwarted their best efforts when attacking with ball in hand.
Argentina started the second half with a bang when a break from captain Bautista Ezcurra led to replacement number eight Santiago Portillo going over in the corner with Miotti adding the conversion.
Ireland hit back with a further two Carbery penalties to move 15-13 ahead with 25 minutes left on the clock before Boffelli’s late effort.
Despite closing in on a first victory over Ireland since 2010, Argentina were penalised for going off their feet at the breakdown and 19-year-old Quinlan, who was drafted into the squad following Byrne’s withdrawal with a back problem, held his nerve to steal the win with a sweetly-struck inswinging effort with his left boot.
Ireland could face another tough test in the second pool match on Saturday when they come up against Sean Lineen’s Scotland, who were thrashed 68-10 by New Zealand.