Wales miss out on fifth place in the IRB U19 World Championship after losing 20-15 to Ireland.
Wales ended their IRB U19 World Championship campaign in disappointing fashion, going down to Ireland in the heat of Dubai. The defeat at the hands of a side that they had beaten 31-6 in Dublin two months ago meant that Wales ended up sixth overall in the competition, behind the champions Australia (17-13 winners over New Zealand in the final), England, France and Ireland.
The bitter irony for coach Justin Burnell was that Wales had also beaten Australia, France and England earlier in the season.
"It has been a big learning curve for us," said Burnell. "We came here with plenty of confidence but our losses have made us rethink strategy and selection. We will go away from here and learn from our experiences."
Wales started with a bang, scoring two tries in eight minutes through flanker Dan Franks (St David's College) and hooker Ken Owens (Carmarthen Quins) - his fourth of the championships to make him Wales's top try scorer.
Ireland remained ultra competitive for the rest of the half and got a vital try back early in the second half through prop Cian Healy. Fly half Brian Collins added the points and soon did the same to a try from replacement prop James Gethings.
Ireland, their tails up, flew into the Welsh in furious defence and frenzied attack with the Welsh boys affected more by the hot conditions. A Collins penalty stretched the lead to 17-10 before No.8 Lewis Evans (Ebbw Vale) bravely clawed a try back with five minutes left.
To their credit, Ireland finished the stronger with a drop goal from Collins bringing the curtain down on a bad day for Wales.
Wales U19 Tries: D Franks, K Owens, L Evans
Ireland U 19 Tries C Healy, J Gethings
Cons B Collins (2)
Pen B Collins
Drop Goal B Collins
Wales U19 Martyn Thomas (UWIC/Scarlets) (rep Rhys Jones (Sale/Exiles) 29'); Alec Jenkins (Carmarthen Quins/Scarlets), Ashley Smith (Newport HSOB/Dragons), Gareth Maule (Newport/St Alban's RCS/Dragons) (rep Luke Ford (St David's College/Blues) 43'), Jimmy Norris (Bettws HS/ Newport HSOB/Dragoms); Rhys Priestland (Carmarthen Quins/Scarlets), Darren Allinson (Pontyberem/Scarlets); Hugh Gustafson (UWIC/Scarlets), Ken Owens (Carm Quins/Scarlets) (rep Marc Jones (Sale/Blues) 49'), James Corsi (Pontypool/Bassaleg CS/Dragons), Bradley Davies, (Cardiff/Blues) (capt), Lou Reed (Llanelli/Coleg Sir Gar/Scarlets), Matthew larsen (Tonyrefail CS/Blues), Lewis Evans (Ebbw Vale/Dragons), Dan Franks (St David's Catholic College/Blues) Referee Keith Brown (New Zealand)
IRB U19 World Championship: Final day Friday April 21
Championship final New Zealand 13 Australia 17
Play off for places:
3rd /4th England 12 France 12 (England are 3rd on tries)
5 and 6 Wales 15 Ireland 20
7 and 8 Argentina 26 South Africa 7
9 and 10 Scotland 15 Samoa 12
11 and 12 Japan 13 Romania 13 (Japan finished 11th after a penalty shoot out, Romania are relegated to be replaced by Section "B" winners Fiji)
Rankings 01 AUSTRALIA
02 New Zealand
08 South Africa
As the countdown continues for RWC2015, Tournament Chief Executive Debbie Jevans visited the Millennium Stadium to discuss preparations for the eight matches and reveal the positive news that 100,000 tickets for games at the home of Welsh rugby have sold in the last seven days.
Jason Harries is targeting a first win on the World Series circuit this season with Wales. The series returns to action this weekend in Dubai where Harries is part of a team hoping to build from its efforts in round one in October.
Wales skipper Jevon Groves says his side have addressed a few points from Gold Coast and aim to 'hit the ground running' in the next two rounds of the World Series, kicking off with this weekend in Dubai before heading off to South Africa next week.
Wales Sevens manager Steff Thomas is hopeful his side can build from a quarter-final spot in the opening round of the World Series in Australia when his side take part in the forthcoming double header in Dubai and South Africa.