UNDER-21 SIX NATIONS: Saturday, February 5Italy U21 21 Ireland U21 33, Otello Gerli Stadium, Udine RFCScorers: Italy: Tries: Penalty try, Gregorio Rebecchini, Valerio Bernabo; Cons: Rebecchini 3 Ireland: Tries: Mark Kettyle, Brett McNamee, Andrew Trimble; Cons: Gareth Steenson 3; Pens: Steenson 4
Steenson, earning his first cap as Ireland captain, put in another commanding display as his kicking saw off what was a stubborn Italian outfit.
McDermott's charges, who face Scotland in Falkirk (kick-off 7.30pm) on Friday night, held a 16-7 half-time lead and built on that score before allowing Italy number 10 Gregorio Rebecchini and Calvisano lock Valerio Bernabo in for consolation tries.
Ireland were 30-7 to the good after just 11 minutes of the second half. Welsh referee Neil Ballard had sin-binned Italian back duo Matteo Pratichetti and Marco Rosa at that stage, and Northampton and former Ireland Under-19 flanker Brett McNamee managed to cross on 45 minutes.
Steenson converted and added the extras to Ballymena centre Andrew Trimble's 20-metre dart over six minutes later.
Earlier, the visitors, who claimed a superb 33-0 win against Italy at Thomond Park eleven months ago, answered back a fourth-minute penalty try as Belfast Harlequins full-back Mark Kettyle was on the end of a flowing backline move on the half-hour, with Steenson converting, and showing superb accuracy with two late penalties on 38 and 41 minutes.
Ireland U21 Fixtures to come:
Friday, Feb 11: Scotland U21 v Ireland U21, Falkirk Community Stadium, 7.30pmSaturday, Feb 26: Ireland U21 v England U21, Donnybrook, 7.30pmFri, Mar 11: Ireland U21 v France U21, Thomond Park, 7.30pmFri, Mar 18: Wales U21 v Ireland U21, The Gnoll, Neath, tbc
ITALY U21: Michele Sepe; Roberto Mariani, Enrico Patrizio, Matteo Pratichetti, Marco Rosa; Gregorio Rebecchini, Giulio Toniolatti; Adrien Vigne-Donati, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Alessio Battisti, Tommaso Reato, Valerie Bernabo (Capt), Emanuele Leonardi, Alessandro Zanni, Robert Barbieri.Replacements: Luigi Milani, Matteo Muccignat, Mauricio Lorenzi, Andrea Sacca, Stefano Canale, Cesare Marrucci, Ettore Boarato.
(15) Mark Kettyle (Belfast Harlequins)(14) Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins)(13) Tom Gleeson (UCC)(12) Andrew Trimble (Ballymena)
(16) Stuart Philpott (Saracens)(17) Eamonn Bracken (Buccaneers)(18) Trevor Richardson (Buccaneers)(19) Chris Henry (Malone)(20) David O'Leary (UCC)(21) Barry Keeshan (Cork Constitution)(22) Kieran Geraghty (London Irish)
Referee: Neil Ballard (Wales)
Wales U21 32 England U21 21France U21 12 Scotland U21 8