Ireland U20 (6) 13
TRY: Shane Daly. CON: Brett Connon. PEN: Brett Connon (4).
Italy U20 (13) 13
TRY: Giovanni Pettinelli. CON: Leanardo Mantelli. PEN: Leanardo Manelli (2).
Ireland U20’s scraped home for an uninspiring 19 – 13 win against their Italian counterparts at Donnybrook on Friday night. Ireland’s points came from a Shane Daly try with Brett Connon adding the conversion and four penalties.
Having bigged up the Under 20’s over the last few weeks I have to say this was easily their worst performance of the series. The first half was a scrappy affair as they struggled to find any continuity, a big disappointment having had expectations raised after their comeback against England.
The Italians started the game full of intent keeping Ireland pinned in their own half for the bulk of the opening quarter but it was Ireland who opened the scoring when a rare incursion into the visitors territory produced a Brett Connon penalty.
Leonardo Mantelli levelled the game on the 20th minute but Connon edged Ireland back in front seven minutes later with his second penalty of the night.
A series of scrums close to the Ireland line saw Ireland’s prop Conan O’Donnell yellow carded and within minutes Giovanni Pettinelli ran a fine line to slice through the hesitant Irish defence for a deserved try for the visitors. Mantelli added the conversion and a penalty before the break to give a half time score of Ireland 6 Italy 13.
Things improved somewhat in the second half and Connon rewarded good work by Adam McBurney and Will Connors with two early penalties to take the score to 12 – 13 by the 50th minute.
It looked as though Ireland were going to cut loose when, a minute later, an intercept by Connors was moved on by Conor O’Brien who sent Shane Daly over for Ireland’s try. Connon converted to give Ireland a 19 – 13 lead with 29 minutes left.
However, there was no second half rampage this time round as Ireland were forced to defend their lead. The kicking of Johnny McPhillips and Connon largely kept the lid on the Italian incursions but they came very close with an interception of their own as the game approached full time.
Fortunately the visitors fluffed their chance and replacement scrum half Niall Saunders dug them out of their hole with a couple of well placed kicks to see Ireland finish the game in the Italian half.
Final Score: Ireland 19 Italy 13
Ireland: Brett Connon, Hugo Keenan, Shane Daly, Conor O’Brien, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny McPhilips, John Polland, Andrew Porter, Adam McBurney, Conán O’Donnell, Peter Claffey, James Ryan, Cillian Gallagher, Will Connors, Greg Jones. Replacement: Hugo Kean, James Bollard, Ben Betts, Sean O’Connor, Max Deegan, Niall Saunders, Paul Kiernan, Terry Kennedy.