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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 26 June, 2019
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Good afternoon, rugby fans.

On this day of massive, if not unexpected, coaching announcements you are very welcome along to our live updates from Ireland U20s’ final World Cup Pool B match against their counterparts from Italy.

If you’re still stuck in work and not yet planted in front of a screen, don’t worry. You still have time to change your circumstance before the 14.30 kick-off on eir Sport 1.

That broadcaster have been ramping up the mood by showing us a re-run of Saturday’s Ireland v Australia match. Stewart Moore has just run in a cracking try, so we’re gonna turn it off now assuming it all turned out fine in the end.

Here’s how the teams are set out for this afternoon. 

Ireland have an injury list now turned up to 11. 

Italy, who ran England extremely close last time out, have made six changes after that one-point loss. 

Ireland U20

15. Jake Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
14. Angus Kernohan (Queen’s University/Ulster)
13. Liam Turner (Dublin University/Leinster) Captain
12. Cormac Foley (St.Mary’s College/Leinster)
11. Rob Russell (Dublin University/Leinster)
10. Ben Healy (Garryowen/Munster)
9. Colm Reilly (Buccaneers/Connacht)

1. Josh Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster)
2. John McKee (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
3. Michael Milne (UCD/Leinster)
4. Thomas Ahern (Shannon/Munster)
5. Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster)
6. David McCann (Banbridge/Ulster)
7. Ciaran Booth (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)
8. Azur Allison (Ballymena/Ulster)

Replacements:

16. Declan Adamson (Clontarf/Leinster)
17. Tom Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster)
18. Charlie Ward (Clontarf/Leinster)
19. Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians/Connacht 
20. Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 
21. Niall Murray (Buccaneers/Connacht)
22. Luke Clohessy (Shannon/Munster) *
24. Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster)
25. Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution/Munster)
26. David Ryan (UCD/Leinster) *
27. Aaron O’Sullivan (UCD/Leinster) *
28. Max O’Reilly (Dublin University/Leinster) *

Italy U20

15 Ange Capuozza (Grenoble Espoirs)
14 Jacopo Trulla (Valsugana Rugby Padova)                                      
13 Federico Mori (Etruscan Rugby)
12 Damiano Mazza (Kawasaki Calvisano Robot)              
11 Cristian Lai (7 Fradis Rugby)
10 Paolo Garbisi (Mogliano Rugby 1969)                 
9 Alessandro Fusco (Rugby Napoli Afragola)        

1 Lorenzo Michelini (Edinol Biella Rugby)   
2 Niccolò Taddia (FEMI-CZ Rovigo)
3 Matteo Nocera (Fiamme Oro Rugby)
4 Nicolare Stoian (Rugby Anzio)
5 Thomas Parolo (FEMI-CZ Rovigo)
6 Angelo Maurizi  (Ione Rugby L’Aquila)       
7 Davide Ruggeri (Rugby Como) – Captain
8 Antoine Koffi (Kawasaki Calvisano Robot)

Replacements

16 Andrej Marinello (Ruggers Tarvisium)
17 Matteo Drudi (Frascati Rugby 2015) 
18 Luca Francheschetto (Rangers Vicenza)
19 Filippo Alongi (The Titans) 
20 Andrea Zambonin (Rangers Rugby Vicenza)
21 Andrea Chianucci (Tuscany Airports The Medicean)
22 Mirko Finotto (Mogliano Rugby 1969)
23 Lorenzo Citton (Valsugana Rugby Padova)
24 Giacomo Da Re (Mogliano Rugby 1969)
25 Giulio Bertaccini (Rugby Parma Amateur)
26 Matteo Moscardi  (FEMI-CZ Rovigo)
27 Edoardo Mastandrea (Valsugana Rugby Padova)
28 Micheal Mba (Rugby Casale)

For those of you who are stuck in work and not willing to skive away to a pub or a living room to watch U20 rugby, the good people at eir Sport are planning to live stream the match on their Facebook page here.

So you don’t have to stay here reading my panicked updates.

As we tick towards kick-off time, a word on Ireland’s semi-final prospects.

Basically, we need a bonus point win to get to 10 points in the table to be in with a chance of the best runner-up slot.

With three pools, there is only one best runner-up spot available, so once on 10 points and with as big a winning margin as possible against Italy, we must hope that the teams currently on 10 points (South Africa, New Zealand and France) or Argentina (six points) either win their own pool or do not force their way above the 10 mark.

Helpfully, the four teams mentioned above play each other in deciders for Pool A and C respectively.

Unhelpfully, Ireland begin the day with a -12 points difference. So even if, say, France South Africa or New Zealand do fail to get a single match point today. They have a points difference buffer in place; +35 for Les Bleus, +52 for the Baby ‘Boks and +51 for the junior ABs.

If it’s not clear, don’t worry. It will be this evening.

That’s the anthems out of the way. Time for kick-off in Santa Fe.

Ben Healy gets us underway and gives us a good early aerial contest between Lai and Kernohan.

The Italian wins this round, claiming on the edge of his 22 and allowing his side clear to halfway… where they knock on and concede a penalty.

Healy will drive the ball down the line.

Ryan Baird making up for lost time with a big carry around the corner as Ireland go quick off the line-out.

Pressure building inside 5 metres of the Italian line.

Penalty comes from the pressure, but Ireland very clearly trying to play at a very high tempo. The passes are flying and the ball has hit the deck three times already as Ireland back their ability to react and move.

5 mins: After another line-out, Ireland pack go through some solid pick and goes.

Making use of the dual playmakers, Flannery is getting his hands on the ball plenty, but he sights an outside line to a try on the last attack.

Unfortunately, he is well wrapped up this time.

Still, another penalty in the offing.

TRY! Ireland 7 Italy 0 (Milne ’7)

The big man forces his way over. Reward for non-stop Irish pressure.

Healy converts and so Ireland’s 100% kicking ratio in this tournament is maintained.

10 mins: Ireland didn’t ease off the pedal after getting their score. Their back-line continues to move it fast and loose and stretching the blue defence whenever possible.

A penalty comes, but unfortunately so too does another injury for Ireland.

11 men already missing and now there is serious concern for Ciaran Booth.

PENALTY: Ireland 10 Italy 0 (Healy ’11)

Healy kicks the points, but the score comes on the back of an apparent knee injury for Booth, suffered due to the clean-out on the ruck giving him a nasty twist.

Second row Niall Murray comes on in place of the openside. We’ll keep an eye on how the reshuffle pans out.

TRY! Ireland 17 Italy 0 (Foley ’15)

Terrific try from Ireland. Their attacking skills on full display as they stream right to left with David McCann popping up in midfield before Russell pops the ball back inside for Foley to run under the stick.s

19 mins: It looks like Ryan Baird is the man packing down on the blindside now, leaving Thomas Ahern and Murray in the engine room.

Italy show a nice glimmer of invention, spinning towards the short side off a scrum, but a spill is gobbled up by Russell and Ireland clear their lines.

Fusco kicks in behind Ireland to stick some pressure on the scramble. Kernohan does well to gather the bouncing ball behind the line, but as he runs out he gets smashed from behind into two oncoming blue shirts.

26 min: The Azzurrini have plunged their claws into this contest and are forcing Ireland’s pack to work for any gains.

They are still coming the way of the Six Nations champs, but Garbisi gets a good long clearance after Ireland’s last lateral attack following a knock-on in contact.

Time off and a TMO check on second row Stoian. I think he had a right cut at Kernohan off the ball.

Dangerous tackle from Stoian, after the wing released his pass the lock almost dismissively tossed him back towards the deck.

Just a penalty, presumably because Stoian didn’t drive Kernohan to the ground.

31 mins: It’s the kind of game where you almost welcome a penalty because this match is loose as a goose. 

Jake Flannery was primarily responsible for denying us some sort of stoppage as he shunned the chance of a line-out and instead ran the ball back on the counter. He’s enjoying himself at fullback today after starting as 10 in the opening two fixtures.

Thomas Ahern had to take a knee for much of that last, long passage.

The big Munster man has been withdrawn through injury (13 if you’re counting) and captain Charlie Ryan is on.

Ireland make their way onto the attack again. Kernohan has a bit of space to work with as Ireland go right, but Lai does well to bundle him into touch.

TRY!  Ireland 24 Italy 0 (Allison ’33)

Charlie Ryan’s impact is instantly felt in the line-out and Ireland win the ball back, rumble to the left under the posts and the big Ulster number 8 forces his way over the try-line.

TRY! Ireland 31 Italy 0 (Russell ’37)

Ooh la la!

Ben Healy is putting the icing on the cake here. Flannery slips it to today’s 10 and the Garryowen man flicks a reverse offload into the arms of Rob Russell.

Healy then steps up and nails another conversion, this one from the touchline.

So that’s the bonus point in the bag, and barring a disaster the win. So it’s a matter of winning margin from Ireland now to maximise their chance at making the final four.

Right this minute, that task means a big defensive shift is required as Italy drive for the whitewash before the break.

The scrummaging pressure finally earns a reward for Italy and Fusco breaks over after the set-piece disperses.

TRY! Ireland 31 Italy 7 (Fusco ’44)

HALF-TIME: Ireland 31 Italy 7

The interval comes as a mercy, but not soon enough to stop Ireland picking up yet another injury.

Angus Kernohan is forced off before the break and Jonathan Wren is introduced in his place.

This tournament is utter brutality.

Right, the players are shaded and watered. It’s time for a second half as the midday temperatures arrive in Santa Fe.

Colm Reilly couldn’t claim the restart cleanly, but Italy are unable to capitalise as they knock on in front of the posts.

Penalty comes and they opt for a penalty, in which they now have a clear upper hand.

PENALTY TRY! Ireland 31 Italy 14 (’42)

So that’s a fair old dent in the points difference we were chasing.

But here, cheer yourself by taking at least three looks at Ireland making the most of their dual playmakers with Flannery and Healy setting up Rob Russell.

48 mins: Tired legs all across both sets of players here and Ireland have tweaked their gameplan to try and play for position and build pressure by territory rather than their own movement.

McNamara’s men are ploughing through heaps of tackles to keep the Azzurrini penned in their half.

Dylan Tierney-Martin, arguably Ireland’s best player in this tournament, has been introduced for the final half hour.

The Connacht man will definitely add some oomph in contact.

Ireland creating impetus from their set-piece again. Reilly injects tempo by picking and going instantly after a big carry.

The big boys are five metres out and ready to slowly grind towards the whitewash.

TRY! Ireland 36 Italy 14 (Baird ’56)

With David McCann in the foreground of all the replays, big Ryan Baird barges over the line for Ireland’s fifth try.

Healy adds the extras and keeps up Ireland’s remarkable 100% kicking record in this tournament.

Ireland 38 Italy 14

Young Luke Clohessy came on in place of McCann after that apparent head injury.  There are still 18 minutes to go in this and you can’t help but feel both sides would be better off calling time on this one 15 minutes before that.

67 min: On we go with this game bearing the unmistakable feel of a third match in nine days.

DTM coughs up a penalty and Italy will kick for the corner, a rare platform deep in Ireland’s 22.

Ireland win the pill back and the big right boot of Big Ben Healy comes in fierce handy. The Garryowen man kicks from behind his line to bring play back to midfield.

Italy’s line-out goes awry and Turner pounces on the loose ball.

This game has devolved into a right mess. It peaked with Healy’s pass on the 13th phase leading up to Russell’s try in the corner. But the errors are coming thick and fast to suck all chance of a rhythm away from this contest.

Both sides will be glad to see full-time and can look forward to freshening up over the weekend before a new opponent in the playoff stage come Monday.

DTM is leading Ireland’s bid to finish strong here. The comes up with a big carry off a line-out on the 22. 

A phase later Flanner chips ahead, but we come back for a penalty and Healy kicks back to the corner.

Dylan Tierney-Martin comes oh so close to a great score off that maul.

The hooker spins through bodies and is just the wrong way up as he reaches the line.

Flannery flicks the ball to the short side, but Russell can’t get a clean catch.

On comes James Ryan’s younger brother David for the closing three minutes as Ireland pack down for a central scrum in Italy’s 22.

Charlie Ryan is upping the tempo in the carry. Ireland look intent on finishing with a flourish.

We’re with the TMO. On-field decision is no try, but even the ref is desperate to salvage something.

Niall Murray attempted to dive on the loose ball behind the try-line, but the Athlone man knocked on in the process.

Just over a minute to go, folks!!!!

FULL-TIME: Ireland 38 Italy 14

A bonus point win, but another busy day for Ireland’s medical team with at least four new injuries to contend with.

Ireland will most likely head into the fifth-place playoffs on Monday. Their opponents will be decided this evening.

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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