Ireland suffer first ever defeat to Italy in the Women's Six Nations on a frustrating night in Parma
Italy 29 Ireland 27
Eimear Considine scored twice but Ireland fell to their first ever Women’s Six Nations defeat against Italy. Adam Griggs’ side took losing and four-try bonus points from the game, but they lost for the second time in the competition.
The sides were level at 22-22 after an enthralling first half at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma.
Italy had only conceded once in the Six Nations this year but Ireland scored three tries before the break, with Considine (two) and Anna Caplice on target.
However, the home side were still right in the game, after early Aura Muzzo and Giada Franco efforts, and Sofia Stefan’s leveller.
Franco scored again on the resumption but that was cancelled out by Laura Sheehan. Nicole Fowley’s missed conversion was the difference.
Italy were dominant in the opening quarter but only led by 17-12 after 19 minutes.
They came into this game on the back of a 3-3 draw against Wales, where Michela Sillari missed a last-ditch penalty. But she made amends with a third-minute penalty, as well as two tricky conversions from the right.
Italian openside Franco was a constant threat and she provided the pass for Muzzo’s try in the seventh minute. Sillari’s conversion gave Italy a 10-0 lead but that was halved.
Ireland finally got some territory and Ciara Griffin broke the gain-line to give her side momentum, Nicole Fowley sat back in the pocket and kicked cross-field with Considine catching the ball ahead of Stefan to score.
It was a try against the run of play but after Fowley missed the conversion Italy were back on the attack.
This time scrumhalf Kathryn Dane saw her kick blocked down by Franco. Italy established a foothold in the Irish 22 and when Muzzo was stopped short Franco powered her way over for the try.
Sillari’s conversion gave Italy a 17-5 advantage and as they looked to take complete control with another score, Considine popped up in midfield to intercept Beatrice Rigoni’s long pass and touch down under the posts.
This time Fowley made no mistake and Ireland only trailed 17-12. After that the frantic pace finally slowed, and it suited the visitors better.
Ireland were back within two on the half-hour mark when Fowley scored her first penalty. And five minutes before half-time Ireland got their third try.
Considine made good ground down the right wing and when the ball was moved to a more central position some hard carries from Aoife McDermott and Griffin gave Caplice the chance to score.
Ireland were 22-17 ahead after Fowley’s conversion but there was one final twist before half-time when Stefan got in in the left corner.
Italy were back in front ten minutes into the second half when Muzzo made a powerful foray down the right wing, and Franco got on the end to score. Sillari added the conversion.
Ireland hit back with another brilliant cross-field kick from Fowley, this time Sheehan scored in the right corner. But crucially Fowley missed her subsequent kick at goal. Italy finished better and Ireland couldn’t find another score.
Scorers – Italy: Tries: A Muzzo, G Franco (2), S Stefan; Pen: M Sillari; Cons: M Sillari (3). Ireland: Tries: E Considine (2), A Caplice, L Sheehan; Pen: N Fowley; Cons: N Fowley (2).
Italy: M Furlan; A Muzzo, M Sillari, B Rigoni, S Stefan; V Madia, S Barattin; G Giacomoli (S Turani 66), M Bettoni, L Gai; V Fedrighi (V Ruzza 40), G Duca; I Arrighetti (L Cammarano 76), G Franco, E Giordano..
Ireland: L Delany; E Considine, S Naoupu, M Claffey (L Sheehan 38), A Miller; N Fowley, K Dane; L Feely (L Peat 52), E Hooban (D Nic a Bhaird 52), L Lyons (F Reidy 52); A McDermott, N Fryday; A Caplice (C Boles 66), C Molloy, C Griffin.
Referee: L Pettingale (England).