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Ireland U-18 Schools Team Impress With Five-Try Performance In Parma

Ireland U-18 Schools Team Impress With Five-Try Performance In Parma

Ethan Black was first in to congratulate James O'Leary after he scored Ireland's fifth and final try against hosts Italy in Parma ©Federico Zovadelli/Actionpress

The Ireland Under-18 Schools team (sponsored by PwC) recorded their first win of their Easter campaign, stretching clear for a 36-10 victory over hosts Italy in Parma.


Wednesday, April 3 –

ITALY 10 IRELAND U-18 SCHOOLS 36, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
Scorers: Italy: Tries: Malik Faissal, Pietro Celi
Ireland: Tries: Conor O’Shaughnessy, Conor Magee, Charlie Molony, Noah Byrne, James O’Leary; Cons: Conor O’Shaughnessy 4; Pen: Conor O’Shaughnessy
HT: Italy 5 Ireland 15

Coached by Neil Doak, Brendan O’Connor, and Michael Hodge, the Ireland youngsters had endured a disappointing start to the U-18 Men’s Six Nations Festival last Saturday with a comprehensive 50-7 defeat to France.

They had early ground to make up on Italy after Malik Faissal’s try straight from the kick-off, but led by captain Charlie Molony from full-back, they produced a strong five-try performance.

Blackrock College out-half Conor O’Shaughnessy finished with 16 points, scoring the first Irish try from a clever blindside run. Another maul saw Banbridge Academy’s Conor Magee cross on the stroke of half-time.

Armed with a 15-5 lead, Ireland went up a couple of gears to score three tries in 11 second-half minutes. Molony, the only starter who was involved in last year’s festival in Dublin, neatly glided over from a nicely-timed Donnacha McGuire pass.

James O’Dywer’s cross-field kick was gobbled up by his Gonzaga College team-mate, Noah Byrne, for try number four, and the final one was all about the power and pace of PBC Cork centre James O’Leary who left two defenders in his wake.

A scrappy closing 20 minutes saw Henry Bruno Bonetti and Cian Walsh both sin-binned, and despite Ireland creating further chances, Italy gained some late consolation with a Pietro Celi intercept effort.

Doak’s charges will be back in action at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Sunday morning (kick-off 11am local time/10am Irish time), determined to finish off the tournament on the high against Portugal who have lost to both Italy (30-14) and Wales (35-10).

Ireland got off to the worst possible start in this second round fixture. Winger Malik Faissal plucked down the Italian kick-off just inside the Irish 22, and raced through to score despite O’Shaughnessy’s efforts to deny him in the left corner.

Blake McClean was up on O’Shaughnessy’s shoulder to lead Ireland’s first break downfield, and fellow Ulster front rower Magee made a big carry off a loose Italian lineout to set up an O’Shaughnessy three-pointer in the sixth minute.

Faissal knocked on as the Italians threatened out wide again, having built initial pressure through their bulky pack. Good work from Bill Hayes and Dylan McNeice then forced a maul turnover.

Off an inviting O’Leary pass, Molony attacked from deep and showed his offloading skills. The Irish maul gained ground following a penalty, before O’Dwyer sniped down the shortside and put his half-back partner O’Shaughnessy surging over in the left corner.

The try scorer missed the conversion on the near side, leaving it 8-5, and Ireland’s defence had to absorb more pressure on the 20-minute mark. Carlo Antonio Bianchi showed impressive feet on the left wing, but O’Dwyer and Brian O’Flaherty crowded out Alessandro Drago on the right.

Cistercian College Roscrea’s Hayes stole an important lineout near his own line, and when play returned to the Italian half, his back row colleagues, Charlie Meagher and Diarmaid O’Connell, counter-rucked to earn a penalty.

The resulting Irish lineout did not work out, and despite a run of penalties against the green shirts, Italy were unable to capitalise. CBC Monkstown number 8 Meagher won back some of the lost territory with a brilliant run from a scrum.

Blackrock duo Molony and O’Flaherty countered at pace as the interval approached, with the latter combining with Meagher to push Italy back into their own 22. This time Ireland made the penalty and subsequent lineout count as Magee was driven over from six metres out.

O’Shaughnessy swept out over a fine conversion for good measure, putting 10 points between the teams. Powerful St. Michael’s College lock McNeice ripped the ball back early on the resumption, setting up a hotly-contested few phases in and around the Italian 22.

Meagher soon led the way again for Ireland, making a full 25 metres with a bustling carry off a lineout. O’Shaughnessy had a cut himself, before McGuire’s floated delivery released Molony to beat Faissal’s initial challenge and cut inside Drago for an excellent 30-metre run-in.

O’Shaughnessy’s extras extended the lead out to 22-5, and Ireland were deadly accurate once more from set-piece ball in the 44th minute. O’Dywer used a scrum on halfway to kick out to the right for winger Byrne to collect and evade Roberto Fasti for a well-worked fourth try.

The fifth quickly followed when replacement hooker Luke McLaughlin, a returning player from last year, controlled a maul before O’Leary bounced off Celi’s attempted tackle and evaded Drago to touch down in emphatic fashion near the posts. O’Shaughnessy converted before being called ashore.

Building again from deep with replacement Jamie Conway winning a turnover penalty, Ireland had opportunities to put more points on the board during the closing stages.

The lively McLaughlin had a maul try ruled out for obstruction, and Tom Wood also had a tidy cameo at number 10, apart from a couple of overcooked kicks.

Joe Finn lacked support as he charged towards the Italian 22, by which stage Walsh, who was not back 10 metres from a penalty, had joined Bonetti, who had taken a player out off the ball, in the bin.

The Azzurrini did make it into double figures right at the death, with Celi showing good awareness and pace to break clear from inside his own half.

TIME LINE: 1 minutes – Italy try: Malik Faissal – 5-0; conversion: missed by Roberto Fasti – 5-0; 6 mins – Ireland penalty: Conor O’Shaughnessy – 5-3; 15 mins – Ireland try: Conor O’Shaughnessy – 5-8; conversion: missed by Conor O’Shaughnessy – 5-8; 35 mins – Ireland try: Conor Magee – 5-13; conversion: Conor O’Shaughnessy – 5-15; Half-time – Italy 5 Ireland 15; 39 mins – Ireland try: Charlie Molony – 5-20; conversion: Conor O’Shaughnessy – 5-22; 44 mins – Ireland try: Noah Byrne – 5-27; conversion: Conor O’Shaughnessy – 5-29; 48 mins – Ireland try: James O’Leary – 5-34; conversion: Conor O’Shaughnessy – 5-36; 70 mins – Italy try: Pietro Celi – 10-36; conversion: missed by Pietro Celi – 10-36; Full-time – Italy 10 Ireland 36

ITALY U-18: Roberto Fasti (Benetton Rugby); Malik Faissal (Rugby Parma FC 1931), Edoardo Todaro (Ipswich College/Northampton Saints), Nicola Noselli (Benetton Rugby), Alessandro Drago (Mogliano Veneto Rugby); Pietro Celi (Livorno Rugby), Luca Rossi (Pesaro Rugby); Christian Brasini (Rugby Livorno 1931), Antonio Reina (CUS Milano Rugby), Filippo Giagnoni (Cavalieri Union Prato Sesto), Marco SPreafichi (Benetton Rugby), Simone Fardin (Rugby Casale), Carlo Antonio Bianchi (Unione Rugby Firenze), Inza Dene (Piacenza Rugby Club), Antony Miranda (Unione Rugby Capitolina) (capt).

Replacements: Henry Bruno Bonetti (Bath Rugby Academy), Samuele Venuto (Rugby Udine), Giacomo Dolci (Rugby Colorno), Sebastiano Bolzoni (Rugby Lyons), Christopher Baas (Rugby Lyons), Lorenzo Ferrari (Verona Rugby), Francesco Agnelli (Rugby Colorno), Thomas del Sureto (Fiamme Oro Rugby Roma), Luigi Nalin (Rugby Rovigo Delta), Marco Ravanelli (Benetton Rugby), Matteo Noventa (Benetton Rugby).

IRELAND U-18 SCHOOLS: Charlie Molony (Blackrock College/Leinster) (capt); Noah Byrne (Gonzaga College/Leinster), Jack Deegan (Cistercian College Roscrea/Leinster), James O’Leary (PBC Cork/Munster), Brian O’Flaherty (Blackrock College/Leinster); Conor O’Shaughnessy (Blackrock College/Leinster), James O’Dwyer (Gonzaga College/Leinster); Max Doyle (Clongowes Wood College/Leinster), Conor Magee (Banbridge Academy/Ulster), Blake McClean (RBAI/Ulster), Dylan McNeice (St. Michael’s College/Leinster), Donnacha McGuire (Blackrock College/Leinster), Diarmaid O’Connell (Carrick-on-Shannon RFC/Sligo Grammar School/Connacht), Bill Hayes (Cistercian College Roscrea/Munster), Charlie Meagher (CBC Monkstown/Leinster).

Replacements: Luke McLaughlin (Gonzaga College/Leinster), Jamie Conway (Castletroy College/Munster), Cian Walsh (CBC Cork/Munster), Rory Gavin (Coláiste Iognáid/Galwegians RFC/Connacht), Michael Walsh (Blackrock College/Leinster), Chris Barrett (CBC Cork/Munster), Josh Gibson (RBAI/Ulster), Tom Wood (St. Munchin’s College/Munster), Joe Finn (Cistercian College Roscrea/Munster), Ethan Black (St. Michael’s College/Leinster), Paddy Curry (Terenure College/Leinster).

Referee: Steffan Edwards (WRU)