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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 20 April, 2019

Daly's try decisive as Ireland U20s earn second Six Nations win against Italy

Brett Connon kicked 14 points for Nigel Carolan’s side at Donnybrook.

Ireland 19

Italy 13

NIGEL CAROLAN’S IRELAND U20s earned their second win of the Six Nations campaign the hard way, with an excellent second-half try from centre Shane Daly proving crucial in a 19-13 victory.

Shane Daly scores their first try Shane Daly scored an important try for Ireland. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Fullback Brett Connon kicked the other 14 points for the home side, missing just once from the tee.

Hugely-promising second row and captain James Ryan was man of the match for Ireland, while the likes of midfielder Conor O’Brien, back row Will Connors and lock Peter Claffey all managed to impress too.

There were Ireland U20 debuts for Young Munster’s Ben Betts, Harlequins scrum-half Niall Saunders and UCC man Paul Kiernan.

Carolan’s side were poor in the first half, struggling to keep hold of the ball in attack, but improved after the break. Indeed, they kept the Italians scoreless in the second half, having trailed 13-6 at the interval.

In truth it was not a classic between these two sides, but there was no shortage of work rate and determination on display. Carolan’s men just about edged it in terms of attacking incision to follow up their remarkable comeback win over England with another victory. A home win against Scotland next weekend would round out their Six Nations campaign nicely.

The scrum was the story of a disappointing first half as Italian loosehead Daniele Rimpelli did repeated damage to Ireland’s front row, some of it illegal. Eventually, Connacht tighthead Conan O’Donnell was sent to the sin bin by referee Sam Grove-White, Italy scoring their try in the minutes that followed the yellow card.

Joe Schmidt Joe Schmidt was in attendance at Donnybrook. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ireland had drawn first blood early in the game when Exiles product Connon fired over a straightforward penalty after the Italians came offside, but one of several scrum penalties against O’Donnell allowed Leonardo Mantelli to bring the visitors level.

Rimpelli was pinged for driving in on the angle to allow Ireland back into the lead through Connon’s boot, but the Italy loosehead had his revenge on the half-hour mark when O’Donnell dropped to the ground and Grove-White binned him.

Italy swiftly took their opportunity against 14 men, driving to within five metres of the Irish tryline and working a chance for blindside flanker Giovanni Pettinelli to carry at Ireland scrum-half John Poland. The mismatch was obvious and Italy dotted down to the right of the posts, Mantelli converting for a 13-6 lead they held into the interval.

The scrum tide began to turn against Rimpelli after the break, however, and Connon punished his boring in with a third penalty in the 43rd minute.

The Newcastle Falcons fullback grew into the game as an influence, producing several intelligent touches with the boot, while Clontarf centre O’Brien began to impose himself in the midfield.

An error from Italian scrum-half Vincenzo Charly Ernest Trussardi, the provider for Pettinelli’s try, allowed Ireland to seize the momentum.

The halfback’s loose pass was picked off by the impressive Connors 40 metres out from the Italian tryline, with the Ireland openside finding O’Brien surging into clear space. The former Mullingar man beat two defenders, drew in fullback Matteo Minozzi and released a deft, one-handed catflap offload for Munster’s Shane Daly to cross.

Peter Claffey and Gabriele Venditti Peter Claffey makes a carry for Nigel Carolan's side. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Connon added the 54th-minute conversion and Ireland finally took control of the game, having struggled to retain possession in the first half. O’Brien continued to threaten the Italian defence.

Ireland were forced into a big defensive stand heading into the final 10 minutes, however, with the Italians hammering into carry after carry. The Irish back row were prominent in the tackle, and when replacement prop Giosuè Zilocchi finally spilled forward, Ireland sub scrum-half Niall Saunders hacked the ball clear.

A scrum penalty against the Italians with two minutes remaining meant Connon had the chance to life the final pressure of those closing stages, but he was off target with his fifth penalty effort of the night.

Italy came back at Ireland, but their final attack of the game ended with a knock-on from Minozzi and Carolan’s men were able to close out win number two of their Six Nations campaign.

Ireland scorers:

Tries: Shane Daly

Conversions: Brett Connon [1 from 1]

Penalties: Brett Connon [4 from 5]

Italy scorers:

Tries: Giovanni Pettinelli

Conversions: Leonardo Mantelli [1 from 1]

Penalties: Leonardo Mantelli [2 from 2]

IRELAND: Brett Connon; Hugo Keenan (Terry Kennedy ’65), Shane Daly (Paul Kiernan ’70), Conor O’Brien, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny McPhillips, John Poland (Niall Saunders ’70); Andrew Porter, Adam McBurney, Conan O’Donnell (yellow card ’30); Peter Claffey, James Ryan (captain); Cillian Gallagher, Will Connors (Ben Betts ’38 to HT), Greg Jones (Max Deegan ’65).

Replacements not used: Hugo Kean, James Bollard, Sean O’Connor.

ITALY: Matteo Minozzi; Pierre Bruno (Lorenzo Masato ’55), Roberto dal Zilio, Marco Zanon, Luca Sperandio; Leonardo Mantelli, Vincenzo Charly Ernest Trussardi; Daniele Rimpelli (Giovanni Amendola ’68), Marco Manfredi (Nicolò Broglia ‘HT), Marco Riccioni (captain) (Giosuè Zilocchi ’71); Leonard Krumov, Samuele Ortis (Lorenzo Robin Masselli ’55); Giovanni Pettinelli, Davide Ciotoli (Michael de Marco ’67), Gabriele Venditti.

Replacements not used: Giovanni Lucchin, Marcello Angelini.

Referee: Sam Grove-White [Scotland].

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Murray Kinsella

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