The Ireland Under-18 Clubs team, sponsored by PwC, were given a sound beating by Italy who scored seven tries in a runaway 41-10 victory at the Stadio di Monigo in Treviso.
UNDER-18 INTERNATIONAL MATCH: Saturday, October 30
ITALY UNDER-18s 41 IRELAND UNDER-18 CLUBS 10, Stadio di Monigo, Treviso
Scorers: Italy Under-18s: Tries: Lorenzo Casilio, Penalty try, Valerio Siciliano, Marcos Francesco Gallorini, Jacopo Botturi, Nicholas Gasperini, Marco Scalabrin; Cons: Pen try con, Tommaso Simoni 2
Ireland Under-18 Clubs: Try: Grant Palmer; Con: Tom Larke; Pen: Tom Larke
HT: Italy Under-18s 12 Ireland Under-18 Clubs 10
Coached by Roberto Santamaria, the Italy Under-18s showed that their August win away to England was no fluke with another impressive performance, hitting Ireland with 36 unanswered points.
Grant Palmer’s sixth-minute converted try was the ideal start for Brendan O’Connor’s Ireland youngsters, who added a penalty from Old Wesley’s Tom Larke.
However, Italy edged into a 12-10 half-time lead, picking up a late penalty try – Kyle Read conceded it for a high tackle and was sin-binned – to supplement a superb solo effort from Lorenzo Casilio.
The hosts’ powerful pack got on top in the second half, and they used their pace out wide well. Captain Jacopo Botturi crossed the whitewash, along with Valerio Siciliano, Marcos Francesco Gallorini, Nicholas Gasperini and Marco Scalabrin.
Ireland applied the early pressure from a series of penalties, their maul gaining ground before a forceful carry from Palmer, with Paddy Jones adding his weight, earned the number 8 the opening try.
Larke converted to the left of the posts, and although winger Hugh Gavin showed some nice touches out wide, it was Italy who struck next to break up the game’s first scrappy spell.
From a scrum near the right wing, an 8-9 move released Casilio through a gap and the Wasps Academy player showed impressive pace to get past Ethan Graham’s tackle and score in the corner.
The try went unconverted and Ireland managed to hit back in the 27th minute, Larke lofting over a well-struck penalty from the Italian 10-metre line after good work at the breakdown by captain James O’Loughlin, who soldiered well throughout.
The points were tempered by the sight of Naas centre Charlie Sheridan hobbling off injured. The Italian backs came to life towards the end of the opening half, in particular full-back Tommaso Simoni.
He was involved in a pacy break with Nicola Bozzo, and then it was his speedy late surge from inside his own half which set up the penalty try.
Simoni got past replacement David Donohue and offloaded to Casilio who was caught high by his opposite number Read just before the try-line. Italy were awarded a penalty try and Ireland were reduced to 14 men.
Disappointingly, the second half was one to forget for Ireland. It begin with a knock-on from the restart and Larke had to react quickly to deny Casilio a try from his own blindside break and chip.
Following a scrum penalty, the Italians took a quick tap and a couple more bites followed before flanker Siciliano drove low to make the line. Samuele Romeo Destro missed the conversion.
Leonardo Antonio Sodo’s long-range break kept the home side on the front foot, and from a subsequent lineout drive, tighthead Gallorini broke off and burrowed over despite the best efforts of covering full-back Graham.
Simoni’s conversion had the scoreboard showing 24-10, but Ireland responded well with Jones and the front row replacements, Ballina’s Sean Hopkins in particular, punching some holes with their carrying.
Ireland began to leak penalties in the scrum, though, and one on the hour mark set up a well-worked lineout move as Botturi plunged over by the left corner flag. Simoni added an excellent conversion.
O’Connor’s charges responded with their best attack of the afternoon, quick ball from a scrum allowed Larke to send Graham through the middle on a weaving run, for a gain of over 30 metres.
Athy’s Andrew Doyle was the link man and fellow replacement Kieran Kennedy and Sean Edogbo also got their hands on the ball, taking Ireland back into the Italian 22.
The Azzurrini defended the danger and again showed how clinical they are on the break. Bozzo charged downfield and despite Senan Phelan intercepting his pass, a resulting penalty paved the way for replacement Gasperini to score from close range.
The home crowd were loving the sight of Italy flooding forward and they did so again, two minutes from the end. Lorenzo Morini stormed up the left touchline and good passes out to the right put fellow replacement Scalabrin over.
TIME LINE: 6 minutes – Ireland try: Grant Palmer – 0-5; conversion: Tom Larke – 0-7; 15 mins – Italy try: Lorenzo Casilio – 5-7; conversion: missed by Samuele Romeo Destro – 5-7; 27 mins – Ireland penalty: Tom Larke – 5-10; 34 mins – Italy try: Penalty try: 12-10; Ireland yellow card: Kyle Read; Half-time – Italy 12 Ireland 10; 41 mins – Italy try: Valerio Siciliano – 17-10; conversion: missed by Samuele Romeo Destro – 17-10; 46 mins – Italy try: Marcos Francesco Gallorini – 22-10; conversion: Tommaso Simoni – 24-10; 60 mins – Italy try: Jacopo Botturi – 29-10; conversion: Tommaso Simoni – 31-10; 65 mins – Italy try: Nicholas Gasperini – 36-10; conversion: missed by Francesco Imberti – 36-10; 68 mins – Italy try: Marco Scalabrin – 41-10; conversion: missed by Matteo Bianco – 41-10; Full-time – Italy 41 Ireland 10
ITALY U-18: Tommaso Simoni (Valpolicella Rugby); Leonardo Antonio Sodo (S.S. Lazio Rugby 1927), Nicola Bozzo (Sedbergh School), Lorenzo Nanni (Livorno Rugby), Francesco Bini (Florentia Rugby); Samuele Romeo Destro (Verona Rugby), Lorenzo Casilio (Wasps Academy); Alessandro di Stefano (Rugby Experience L’Aquila), Enrico Brussolo (Rugby San Donà), Marcos Francesco Gallorini (Vasari Junior Arezzo), Samuele Mirenzi (VII Rugby Torino), Tommaso Ferrari (Unione Rugby Capitolina), Valerio Siciliano (Unione Rugby Capitolina), Vittorio Padoan (Benetton Rugby), Jacopo Botturi (Rugby Transvecta Calvisano) (capt).
Replacements: Nicholas Gasperini (Rugby Perugia), Andrea Frattolillo (Petrarca Rugby), Davide Ascari (HBS Colorno), Matteo Palumbo (Amatori Rugby Genova), Tommaso Tonetta (Verona Rugby), Filippo Russi (Rugby Udine Union F.V.G.), Matteo Bianco (S.S. Lazio Rugby 1927), Riccardo Maria Crepaldi (Benetton Rugby), Marco Scalabrin (Rugby Riviera 1975), Lorenzo Morini (Rugby Transvecta Calvisano), Francesco Imberti (Cus Torino).
IRELAND U-18 CLUBS: Ethan Graham (Monaghan RFC/Ulster); Hugh Gavin (Galwegians RFC/Connacht), Charlie Sheridan (Naas RFC/Leinster), Michael Burnett (City of Armagh RFC/Ulster), Sean Fox (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht); Tom Larke (Old Wesley RFC/Leinster), Kyle Read (Midleton RFC/Munster); Oisin Lynch (Boyne RFC/Leinster), Niall O’Hanlon (Athy RFC/Leinster), Charlie Byrne (Buccaneers RFC/Connacht), James O’Loughlin (Naas RFC/Leinster) (capt), Jarlath Gleeson (London Irish/IQ Rugby), Paddy Jones (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby), Sean Edogbo (Cobh Pirates RFC/Munster), Grant Palmer (Wexford Wanderers RFC/Leinster).
Replacements used: David Donohue (Lansdowne FC/Leinster) for Sheridan (27 mins), Sean Hopkins (Ballina RFC/Connacht) for Lynch, Adam Deay (Tullow RFC/Leinster) for Byrne (both 43), Sam Green (Malone RFC/Ulster) for O’Hanlon (45), Andrew Doyle (Athy RFC/Leinster) for Read (48), Niklas Moelders (Wicklow RFC/Leinster) for Edogbo (54), Donagh McCarrick (Coolmine RFC/Leinster) for Gleeson, Senan Phelan (St. Mary’s College RFC/Leinster) for Gavin, Kieran Kennedy (Waterford City RFC/Leinster) for Burnett (all 55), Edogbo for Palmer (61).
Referee: Alex Frasson (FIR)