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What last-gasp hero Finn Treacy made of Ireland's 24-phase try

By Liam Heagney
Ireland celebrate their wining try (Photo by Nic Bothma/World Rugby)

Thrilling Thursday at the World Rugby U20 Championship had a spectacular game one ending in Stellenbosch, Finn Treacy scrambling over the line to score in added time to shatter Georgian hearts and leave Ireland out in front at the top of Pool B.

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The Irish looked set to be beaten as they had surrendered an early 12-0 lead, were trailing 15-16 and were fortunate not to be 15-22 behind as the Eastern Europeans missed a pair of kickable penalties when tensing up coming down the finishing straight.

Those misses left Ireland in with a chance of a winning reprieve but having struggled to stitch phases of play together for most of what followed after tries from Hugh Gavin on six minutes and Stephen Smyth on 20, there were really in miracle territory with the game’s final play beginning with a scrum near the touchline on halfway with the clock on 78:46.

Treacy initially handled a couple of times down the right after Brian Gleeson had broken off the back of a under-pressure scrum and 12 phases of play has taken place by the time a Georgian tackler felt to the floor on the 22 injured with the clock having moved onto 80:20.

Rather than a halt being called to accommodate the medical personnel that had sped onto the field to treat the stricken Georgia player, the action continued.

It was then in the 24th phase, with the clock now on 82:11, when a pass from Jack Murphy bounced up off the Danie Craven Stadium surface to give Treacy, now stationed on the left-hand side of the pitch, a run at making the corner.

This was at a time when there was a medical cart behind him on the 22 for the injured Georgian player whose absence in the defensive line was crucial to the eventual creation of the space for Ireland to score.

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Treacy was thrilled, the converted try sealing the 22-16 win that has Ireland on top of Pool B with Australia to play in Athlone next Tuesday.

After his celebrations included meeting with two uncles, a couple of cousins and his dad, the Irish No23 man told RugbyPass: “Georgia really brought it. We expected it to be fair; it just shows the character for the boys.

“We talked about it all week, we had a game like that in the Six Nations against Italy (where we on in the last minute). It just shows what we are made of when we can pull through with victories like that when maybe stuff isn’t going your way the whole day. Really proud.”

Tell us about that lengthy, last play. “Especially against these Georgian boys, they are big lads. It was tough. The message when I came on was just hold the ball, play through the phases – we knew we had enough to get over the line in the end. Fair play to the Georgians, they deserved a lot more out of that, but just really proud of our boys.

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“To be honest, I was screaming on the sideline for a bit, about three or four minutes before it came out to me. Dogged work from the forwards and great execution from Jack to get the pass over the top, so fair play to everyone else inside. It [winning in the last minute] brings the group much tighter the manner we did it.

“We did get a lot of luck but what the boys put in at the end, it just shows what we have as a group and a team, it’s something you are going to need going into this latter stage of the competition. We’ll take a lot of learning from it and it’s probably not a bad thing to happen this early in the competition. Pleased.

“Fair play to the fans for travelling. It’s some distance. We’d to do it ourselves, 17-something hours. Huge thanks for everyone for pushing us over the line, especially when it mattered.”

Head coach Willie Faloon was mightily relieved that Ireland had sneaked the win in his second game in charge since his promotion to the spot vacated by Richie Murphy.

“Oh my goodness. Really, really happy that we got the result. The lads were amazing in that last phase of play. It was an unbelievable passage of play and to be to finish under that fatigue and that pressure.

“When you play that many phases, everybody is getting a touch of the ball. The calmness of the guys to execute and get to that space as well, be accurate under that much pressure.

“We have a strong squad and guys coming on, they are adding energy. It definitely too everybody today. I don’t think a team like Georgia is ever going to go away. They are plucky and they will fight for everything and they showed that.

“We gave them opportunities in the game and fair play to them, they took those opportunities, were really good with the ball and they put us under a lot of pressure.”

Having won without a bonus point, Ireland left the stadium in Stellenbosch to transit back to Cape Town at half-time in the France-New Zealand game in danger of falling to second in their pool as Australia, who beat Georgia 35-11 last Saturday, would have felt capable of securing a bonus point win over Italy, who had lost 15-55 to the Irish.

However, the only bonus the Junior Wallabies earned was a losing point as they were shocked 12-17 in Athlone in the late kick-off and they now have only six match points compared to Ireland’s nine heading into next Tuesday’s pool decider between the countries.

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1 Comment
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Rob 16 days ago

That finish had me on the edge of my seat. Georgia gave everything in that second half and will undoubtedly feel very regretful over the mistakes made in the first half. Definitely a huge case to be made now for an expansion of the u20s Six Nations

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