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Ireland U-18 Clubs Side Secure Three-Try Win

Ireland U-18 Clubs Side Secure Three-Try Win

The Ireland Under-18 Clubs team, sponsored by PwC, enjoyed a successful trip to Colorno as they emerged as 26-9 winners over Italy in today’s well-contested international tie.


Out-half Brett Connon had an 11-point contribution in a man-of-the-match display, while Ronan Wallace, Matthew Cosgrove and Brian Fanning all touched down as Ireland outscored their hosts by three tries to none.

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Unconverted efforts from Wallace and Cosgrove bookended a largely positive first half for Wayne Mitchell's youngsters, who defended stoutly particularly when down to 14 men.

The Italian scrum was dominant at times but the hosts lacked the clinical edge that Ireland showed, and the combination of Fanning's try and Connon's reliable boot saw the U-18 Clubs side home.

Ireland kicked off at the Stadio G. Maini and enjoyed a brilliant start, with Mullingar centre Wallace going over for an unconverted try within three minutes.

Kieran Joyce and Hugh Sloan made the initial inroads, their strong running bringing Ireland inside the Italian 10-metre line. Accurate passing soon released hooker Dylan Power on the left wing and he passed for Wallace to cut inside the covering defender and make the line.

The hosts gained good territory in response and threatened through their strong pack, but pressure from the Irish lineout and scrum forced errors and kept Italy scoreless.

Italian number 10 Matteo Minozzi missed his first shot at the posts after an Irish offside, but he made no mistake after the visitors had Power sin-binned for repeated offences – Ireland were penalised eight times in the opening 16 minutes.

Newcastle Falcons' Connon – one of four Exiles in the Irish side – replied four minutes later with his first penalty goal and he cancelled out a second effort from Minozzi as Ireland held an 11-6 advantage.

The gap was widened to 10 points in the 36th minute when Cosgrove scored a superb solo effort on the heavy, muddy pitch.

The ball went loose from an Italian ruck on the Irish 22, Cosgrove put boot to ball and he hacked on again on the Italian 10-metre line before brilliantly winning a foot race with winger Filippo Banzato to touch down.

A 16-6 half-time lead was an excellent return for this young Irish team, considering the 30% share of possession they had to work off.

With the front five changing the point of attack on the resumption, the scrums altered the direction of the game and now gave Ireland a more solid platform to attack the Italians.

Minozzi converted a penalty for the first points of the second half, but the increasingly influential Connon answered back with a superb strike from 50 metres for a 19-9 scoreline.

The sides cancelled each other out until Bruff back Fanning cut in from the left for Ireland's third try of the afternoon, entering the final quarter.

The score came from one of Ireland's best attacks with the tricky Wallace twice involved as he made it up to the Italian 22. The ball was then swung wide to the left where Connon, Ciaran Frawley and Cosgrove confidently combined to put Fanning over.

Connon added the extras and although he ended the game with two more misses off the kicking tee, Ireland's well-organised and disciplined defence – beefed up by the impact of the bench – kept the Italians try-less throughout.

Referee: Thomas Charabas (France)