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Keith Earls celebrates the Triple Crown victory in Scotland
Inpho/Dan Sheridan
Earls Impresses As Under 20s Take Triple Crown
3 March 2007, 8:42 am
By Pat Geraghty
Keith Earls turned in an impressive performance as the Eric Elwood coached Ireland Under 20s claimed the Triple Crown with 31-8 victory over Scotland in Falkirk on Friday evening.
However, although clearly elated afterwards Elwood's immediate reaction was one of relief. The cause of that relief was brought about by a No ALT tag specifiedpoor first half performance by his charges that them tied 3-3 with a Scots side looking for a first win while short seven or eight first choice players.

In fact the Irish might have considered themselves lucky with that scoreline given that Scottish out-half Cameron Ferguson was wide with two kickable efforts and only desperate Irish defence prevented a Scottish try after full-back Felix Jones spilled a huge up-and-under.

By the same token prop Cian Healy will claim he did ground the ball for a perfectly legitimate try although Italian referee Damasco adjudged he had not. Nevertheless the Irish were far from precise or patient enough in that opening half and Elwood admitted that he "gave them a bit of a roasting" at the interval. Whatever he said had the required affect and within minutes of the restart Ireland were awarded a penalty try after fullback Graham Hogg had dropped a garryowen over the dead-line allowing Ireland the five-metre scrum. Under pressure from the put-in, a following a re-set, the Scots were driven back, infringed and the penalty try was awarded. No ALT tag specifiedIan Keatley tapped over the conversion for a 10-3 advantage and the UCD player added the extras when Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins) scored in the 58th minute following a good line-out take from Thomas Anderson (Dungannon) and neat play from Dublin University wing Shane Monahan.

The home side reduced the deficit with a try nine minutes later but the Irish enjoyed a dominant closing quarter with tries from Richard Sweeney (St Mary's Coll) created by Earls and the Limerickman rounded off a great night with the best try of the evening that warranted special mention from Elwood. "The final try was a gem. There was some great handling. It showed the way this team can play."

Ireland: F Jones (Seapoint); S Monaghan (Dublin University), A Wynne (Buccaneers), D Cave (Belfast Harlequins), K Earls (Thomond); I Keatley (UCD), P O'Donoghue (UCD); C Healy (Clontarf), R Sweeney (St Mary's College), J Hagan (Greystones); A Browne (Galwegians), C McInerney (UCD); T Anderson (Dungannon), K Sheahan (UCD), D Pollack (QUB, capt). Replacements: R Murphy (Lansdowne) for Sheahan (68 mins); Sheahan for Healy (72 mins); N Keogh (UCC) for Browne (73 mins); K Tonetti (Blackrock College) for Monahan, D Drake (Ballymena) for O'Donohue, N O'Connor (Belfast Harlequins) for Keatley (all 78 mins); G Slattery (Young Munster) for Sweeney, E Grace (Shannon) for Sheahan (81 mins). Sinbinned: C Healy (62 mins).

Scotland: G Hogg; C Goudie, R Hutton, R Holroyd, A Grove; C Ferguson (capt), J Hunter; A Dymock, P MacArthur, K Traynor; W Lipp, F McKenzie; R Vernon, D Levison, G McGilchrist. Replacements: D Lambert for McKenzie (72 mins); B Pow for Traynor (74 mins); A Jessop for Hutton, N McTaggart for McGilchrist (both 78 mins).

Referee: C Damasco (Italy).

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