Sunday 30 April 2017

Ireland under-20s survive massive scare in Prato to keep Grand Slam hopes alive

Italy 26 Ireland 27

Ciaran Frawley of Ireland in action against Andrea Bronzini of Italy during the RBS U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Italy and Ireland at Stadio Enrico Chersoni in Prato, Italy. Photo by Daniele Resini/SPORTSFILE
Ciaran Frawley of Ireland in action against Andrea Bronzini of Italy during the RBS U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Italy and Ireland at Stadio Enrico Chersoni in Prato, Italy. Photo by Daniele Resini/SPORTSFILE

Des Berry

The Ireland U20s just about preserved their Grand Slam ambitions with a 27-26 edge over Italy at Stadio Chersoni, in Prato, North Italy tonight.

It was difficult to understand the tactical approach as Ireland invited pressure by kicking the ball away loosely time and again.

They were able to take points away from their sporadic attacks.

The exquisite goal-kicking of out-half Johnny McPhillips and supreme finishing of right wing Jordan Larmour for two tries had them looking good at 20-13 in the 64th minute.        

It was then the game seemed to take on a life of its’ own as Italy’s maul took over, centre Marco Zanon’s powering over.

This was countered by replacement Tommy O’Brien’s blockdown of scrum-half Charly Trussardi and follow-up try for Conor Fitzgerald’s conversion to take the Irish two-scores clear in the 73rd minute.

It looked like the insurance intervention until the Italian maul pounded out the yards for flanker Jacopo Bianchi to rise with the ball for another seven points to leave just the minimum in it with three minutes left on the clock.

Ireland were able to take back the ball from a knock-on and scrum-half Johnny Stewart guided them home from there.

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