Spirited Ireland come up short against Australia at U20 World Championship after playing an hour with 14 men

Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-final of the U20 World Championships took a big hit in Argentina after they were beaten 45-17 by Australia.

Noel McNamara’s side were forced to play an hour with 14 men following a first half red card to second row Ryan Baird, and despite battling back to take the lead, the Wallabies eventually made their numerical advantage count.

A second half wonder-try from Ulster centre Stewart Moore gave Ireland hope and a 17-10 lead, after the youngster beat five despairing defenders en route to the line. However, tries from Isaac Lucas, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Will Harrison and replacement Nick Frost (two) earned Australia a bonus point win, their second of the competition.

Ireland retain an outside chance of qualifying for a semi-final after their emphatic bonus point win over England in the opening game, but will need a big win against Italy as well as other results going their way.

A first half red card for second row Baird looked to seal Ireland’s fate, as Australia built a 10-0 lead, but McNamara’s men battled back.

The Leinster prospect saw red after a high challenge on Australia out-half Harrison after just 20 minutes. The TMO took a look at the incident and the second row was dismissed, leaving Ireland to play an hour with 14 men.

Australia scored their first try shortly thereafter, with Harrison slicing open the Irish defence with a brilliant offload, before wing Sione Tui finished well in the corner.

However, Ireland responded and after a lengthy period of territory in the Australia 22, they hit back. After hammering away at the line, scrum-half Craig Casey darted over to reduce the gap in the run-up to half time.

There was still time for Ireland to almost get in more trouble with the referee. Out-half Jake Flannery was guilty of a tip-tackle at the breakdown, but on this occasion the official opted for the lenient decision of just a penalty.

Ireland missed a golden opportunity to take the lead early in the second half. They were camped on the Australia line but after turning down a number of straightforward penalties to tie the game, they eventually turned the ball over in pursuit of a try.

However, shortly afterwards Moore slipped the first tackle with a deceptive dummy and scorched through the Australian defence to put Ireland in the lead.

However, they then began to tire and Australia struck for three quick-fire long-range tries from Lucas, Nawaqanitawase and Frost to decide the contest. Harrison and Frost put the finishing touch on the victory, sending Ireland on to their final pool game against Italy on Wednesday knowing that anything but a big bonus point win won’t be enough.

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