The Ireland U21s carved out a 30-19 victory over a physical Italian side in Viadana, a victory that owed much to discipline and resolute Irish defence that was severely tested in the final quarter.
The Ireland Under 21s carved out a 30-19 victory over a physical Italian side in Viadana, a victory that owed much to discipline and a resolute Irish defence that was severely tested in the final quarter. The home side exerted huge pressure in that period but the Irish defence stood up admirably to the Italian onslaught.
Ireland coach, Mick Bradley had made four changes – two enforced – from the side that beat Scotland a week previously, and one of those changes, Michael Rainey, paid rich dividends. The Glasgow Hawks fly-half, kicked two penalties and two conversions and generally managed to move his backline with a fair degree of potency.
Skipper Stephen Keogh got his side’s first try following a drive from a 20 metre line-out and the second came just before the break from Niall Ronan after good approach work by Fiach O’Loughlin and replacement, John Hearty.
Ireland led 18-9 at the interval but the Italians struck back with a converted try, to reduce the deficit to just two points (18-16).
The Irish responded positively and two tries in five minutes sealed the issue.
First, it was the turn of the Belfast Harlequin, full-back Tommy Bowe, to cross for a try and then wing Richard Lane followed suit – his second try in as many matches – for a score that Rainey converted to put the outcome beyond doubt- given that Ireland were able to produce the goods in defence just as they’d done in attack.
Ireland:Tommy Bowe (Queens University); Richard Lane (UCC), Barry Murphy (UL Bohemians), Keith Matthews (UL Bohemians), David Warwick (Newport); Michael Rainey (Glasgow Hawks), Fiach O’Loughlin (Shannon); Eugene McGovern (Old Crescent), Rory Best (Belfast Harlequins), Jason Moran (UCD); David Gannon (UCD), Neil McComb (Dundee Highschool); John Muldoon (Galwegians), Niall Ronan (Lansdowne), Stephen Keogh capt (UCD).
Replacements: J Hearty (Blackrock) for Warwick 22 mins; D Fitzpatrick (Belfast Harlequins) for Moran 57 mins: D McAllister (Terenure) for Rainey 65 mins.
Italy: 15 Santillo (Sannio), 14 Nitoglia L. (Lazio & Primavera), 13 Chillon (APS Petrarca PD), 12 Ghidini (Am. & Calvisano), 11 Norman Di Maura (Overmach), 10 Marcato (APS Petrarca PD), 9 Picone (Benetton Treviso) (captain), 8 Sergio Parisse (Benetton Treviso), 7 Persico (Arix Viadana), 6 Andrea Bresolin (Mogliano), 5 Antonio Pavanello (Rovigo), 4 Marco Montani (Benetton Treviso), 3 Salvatore Costanzo (Benetton Treviso), 2 Arganese (Castres), 1 Sbaraglini (Benetton Treviso).
Replacements: 16 Ferraro (APS Petrarca PD), 17 Staibano (Overmach Parma), 18 Bernabr (Lazio & Primavera), 19 M Nitoglia (Lazio & Primavera), 20 Porrazzo (Sannio), 21 Doglioli (APS Petrarca PD), 22 Tempestini (Prato).
Referee: A Ireland (Scotland).