Italy U20 (3) 26
TRY: Massimo Ceciliani, Marco Zanon, Alberto Rollero. CON: Massimo Cioffi. PEN: Antonio Rizzi (3).
Ireland U20 (6) 27
TRY: Jordan Larmour (2), Tommy O’Brien. PEN: Johnny McPhillips (2). CON: Johnny McPhillips, Conor Fitzgerald.

Ireland U20’s struggled to their second successive one point win in the U20 Six Nations, this time against Italy in Prato, Ireland holding on to take the match 26 – 27. 

Unfortunately the coverage wasn’t great, a single camera angle through the stands, but it would be hard to argue with Jordan Larmour getting the U20 Six Nations Man of the Match after his second half brace pulled Ireland out of a couple of difficult situations as the game sprung to life in the second half. 

Due to problems with the live feed we didn’t get to view the game until approximately 15 minutes in. By that stage Ireland U20’s were leading 0 – 3 thanks to a McPhillips penalty. It didn’t look as if we’d missed much as the rest of the half was fairly uneventful with Antonio Rizzi and McPhillips swapping penalties were the only additional scores, the teams turning round with the score reading Italy U20 3 Ireland U20 6. 

Things livened up in the second half with Larmour grabbing his first try immediately after the restart., the winger sprinting clear from the half way line. McPhillips added the extras to push the score to 3 – 13. 

However, the Italian forwards had been giving Ireland a good working over in the set piece and the scrum and they showed no signs of tiring. They dominated the next ten minutes and Rizzi slotted over his second penalty before their forwards worked the ball over the line for hooker Massimo Ceciliani to claim an unconverted try. 

With the score now at 11 – 13 it appeared that the Italians were getting on top and when Rizzi added his third penalty at the start of the final quarter, to give the home side a one point lead, it looked as though the game was only going one way. 

Thankfully, the Italians made too many mistakes and Larmour pounced on loose ball to run in his second try. McPhillips added the extras to move the score along to 14 – 20. 

The scores came thick and fast in the last ten minutes. Italian centre Marco Zanon crossed to take the score to 19 – 20 but Tommy O’Brien responded almost immediately, charging down a clearance kick and winning the race to touch down. Conor Fitzgerald added the conversion to push Ireland eight points clear with six minutes to go. 

Every point was needed as another big Italian effort ended with replacement hooker Alberto Rollero finishing off a driving maul. Massimo Cioffi converted and the Italians pushed for the winning score. Unfortunately for the home side their composure let them down and Ireland U20’s held on to make it two from two on the road! 

Ireland U20: Colm Hogan, Jordan Larmour, Gavin Mullin, Ciaran Frawley, Calvin Nash, Johnny McPhillips, Jonny Stewart, Joey Conway, Tadgh McElroy, Charlie Connolly, Fineen Wycherley, Oisin Dowling, Cillian Gallagher, Paul Boyle, Caelan Doris. Replacements: Adam Moloney, Rory Mulvihill, Matthew Burke, Jack Regan, Gavin Coombes, Jack Lyons, Conor Fitzgerald, Tommy O’Brien. 

I don’t think that coach Nigel Carolan will be happy with the nature of the last two U20 Six Nations wins. Sure his team has shown this trademark resilience but they have yet to show much in attacking play, largely living off scraps. McPhillips has largely kept them in the games from the tee and out of hand but we’ve yet to see him open up the game like he did in the U20 World Championship. 

Two weeks to go until the next game – plenty to work on. 

RBS U20 Six Nations Standings.

Team P W D L F A PD BP PTS
England U20 2 2 0 0 96 38 58 2 10
Ireland U20 2 2 0 0 47 45 2 0 8
France U20 2 1 0 1 53 67 -14 1 5
Wales U20 2 1 0 1 48 42 6 0 4
Italy U20 2 0 0 2 31 54 -23 1 1
Scotland U20 2 0 0 2 27 56 -29 1 1

#SUFTUM