Italy U20 26 Ireland U20 27
The Ireland U20s withstood a powerful challenge from Italy at Stadio Enrico Chersoni in Prato tonight, before securing their second consecutive one-point victory in this year’s Six Nations Championship.
A brace of Johnny McPhillips penalties had helped Ireland to establish a 6-3 interval advantage, and they made a whirlwind start to the second period with a converted try from Jordan Armour.
After Massimo Ceciliani had helped Italy to move into the ascendancy, Larmour collected his second try of the contest. Marco Zanon and replacement hooker Alberto Rollero added their names to the Italian scoresheet, but thanks to a fine touchdown in between these scores by UCD’s Tommy O’Brien. Nigel Carolan’s charges ultimately maintained their 100% winning start.
Ireland secured a narrow victory over Scotland in their opening game of the competition seven days ago, and following an encouraging opening in the Tuscany venue, Johnny McPhillips broke the deadlock with a 15th-minute penalty.
However, as the half wore on, Italy caused numerous problems for the visitors, and they deservedly levelled matters with a successful Antonio Rizzi three-pointer. Yet, Ireland issued a direct response to this set-back, and McPhillips’ well-directed 30-metre place-kick provided them with a three-point lead at the break.
Indeed, this gap increased from the opening attack of the second-half, as Larmour broke free on the right-wing for an eye-catching score. McPhillips’ bonus kick created further daylight, but a resurgent Italy fought back in emphatic style.
Rizzi split the posts with a 46th-minute effort from the kicking tee, and after Ceciliani grounded at the back of a line-out maul for an unconverted score, he kicked the Azzurri into the ascendancy for the very first time.
There was never any sense of panic from Ireland, though, and a neat off-load from full-back Colm Hogan helped Larmour to get through for a much-needed try 12 minutes from the end.
A second successful McPhillips conversion meant that six points separated the teams (20-14), and even though centre Zanon dotted down for the resilient Italians, Rizzi’s resulting bonus strike was wide of the mark.
O’Brien then claimed what looked like an insurance try in the 74th-minute, and even though Rizzi converted a neat finish by Rollero from another well-worked line-out move, it wasn’t enough to deny Ireland a hard-earned success.
Italy U20 Scorers
Tries: Massimo Ceciliani, Marco Zanon, Alberto Rollero Con: Antonio Rizzi Pens: Antonio Rizzi 3
Ireland U20 Scorers
Tries: Jordan Larmour 2, Tommy O’Brien Cons: Johnny McPhillips 2, Conor Fitzgerald Pens: Johnny McPhillips 2
ITALY U20: Massimo Cioffi (SS Lazio Rugby 1927); Andrea Bronzini (Rugby Viadana 1970), Ludovico Vaccari (UR Capitolina), Marco Zanon (Mogliano Rugby), Dario Schiabel (Lafert San Donà); Antonio Rizzi (Mogliano Rugby), Charly Vincenzo Ernst Trussardi (Clermont Auvergne); Daniele Rimpelli (Patarò Calvisano), Massimo Ceciliani (Delebio Rugby), Marco Riccioni (Patarò Calvisano); Giordano Baldino (Mogliano Rugby), Gabriele Venditti (SS Lazio Rugby 1927); Jacopo Bianchi (Vasari Arezzo), Lorenzo Masselli (Sitav Rugby Lyons), Giovanni Licata (Miraglia Rugby).
Replacements used: Giosuè Zilocchi (Sitav Rugby Lyons) for Riccioni (half-time).
Alberto Rollero (Sitav Rugby Lyons), Danilo Fischetti (Unione Rugby Capitolina), Giosuè Zilocchi (Sitav Rugby Lyons), Edoardo Iachizzi (Perpignan), Nardo Casolari (SS Lazio Rugby 1927), Emilio Fusco (Stade Aurillacois), Michelangelo Biondelli (FEMI-CZ Rovigo), Roberto dal Zilio (Patarò Calvisano).
IRELAND U20: Colm Hogan (Dublin University/Munster); Jordan Larmour (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Gavin Mullin (UCD/Leinster), Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster), Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster); Johnny McPhillips (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Jonny Stewart (Queen's University/Ulster); Joey Conway (UL Bohemians/Munster), Tadgh McElroy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Charlie Connolly (Dublin University/Leinster); Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster), Oisin Dowling (Lansdowne/Leinster); Cillian Gallagher (Corinthians/Connacht), Paul Boyle (Lansdowne/Leinster), Caelan Doris (St. Mary's College/Leinster).
Replacements used: Adam Moloney (Shannon/Munster), Rory Mulvihill (UCD/Leinster), Matthew Burke (Corinthians/Connacht), Jack Regan (UCD/Leinster), Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster), Jack Lyons (Young Munster/Munster), Conor Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster), Tommy O'Brien (UCD/Leinster).
Referee: Adam Jones (Wales).