Jackson finds his range as Ireland stay on course for Grand Slam
IRELAND U-20 27 ITALY U-20 8
Late tries from Ian Henderson and full-back Shane Layden kept Ireland on course for an U-20 Grand Slam as they saw off Italy in Dubarry Park last night.
Alex Morsellino had stunned the home side with a try in the 77th minute, but Henderson and Layden finished off flowing moves in either corner to seal Ireland's third win of the Six Nations campaign.
But it was the accuracy of Paddy Jackson that proved key as he hit five penalties and a conversion.
Fly-half Riccardo Della Rossa got the visitors off the mark with a straightforward kick from under the posts after Ireland were penalised for offside.
Ireland then seemed to wake from their slumber and 12 minutes in, Jackson kicked them level with a penalty from just outside the '22' after Alessio Zdrilich was caught offside.
Foster Horan, Jordan Coghlan and Tadhg Beirne all came close to crossing for the Irish in the 18th minute as a combination of the Italian's scramble defence and the crucial pass not going to hand saw Italy hold firm.
A quick-tap penalty from Niall Scannell under the Italian posts brought groans from the Irish supporters, but in the next phase the Italians infringed once again and Rudkin sent Italian tight-head Antonio Brandolini to the sin-bin for deliberate offside.
Jackson kicked the penalty to give Ireland a 6-3 lead and just after the half-hour mark he landed his third successful kick from just inside the 10-metre line.
On the verge of half-time the Irish were given another chance to take control when second-row Matteo Ferro was yellow carded for going off his feet. And Jackson kicked the penalty to give Ireland a deserved 12-3 lead at half-time.
Just before the hour-mark Jackson split the posts from the left to increase the lead to 15-3.
However, Italy rocked the home crowd when winger Alex Morsellino showed impressive pace to run from his own '22' and touch down with three minutes left.
Michael Odiete missed with the conversion that would have left just five points between the sides, but then Ireland turned on the style and a well-oiled move was finished superbly by Henderson.
Layden's late touchdown sealed the win.
Ireland U-20 -- S Layden; C Finn, C Farrell, JJ Hanrahan, F Horan; P Jackson (S Olding 80), K Marmion (L McGrath 68, C Marsh 71); K McCall (J Cawley 80), N Scannell (J Rael 56), P Reilly (D Merrey 80); T Beirne, I Henderson; J Coghlan (A Conneely 59), C Gilsenan, J Conan (D Qualter 71).
Italy U-20 -- D Odiete (F Guarducci 80); A Esposito, M Campagnaro, A Bettin (A E Padovani 78), A Morsellino; R Della Rossa (J Apperley 46), G Calabrese; S Drissi (L Scarsini 34), G Maistri (L Conti 80), A Brandolini (P Ceccarelli 65); A Luca Mammana (R Riccioli 71), M Ferro; V Marazzi (De Marchi 59), F Conforti, A Zdrilich.
REF -- C Rudkin (Scotland).