Fighting Irish claw back a draw against Italy
Under-20s scramble to end Six Nations with a draw in L’Aquila
Two lightening strikes from outside centre Michele Campagnaro, the first of them coming off a scrum and also converted, had the home side 12-0 ahead before Ireland had even a chance to put their hands on the ball.
To compound matters, Ireland had two players needing medical treatment in the opening quarter as Italy pushed on and added a monster penalty to take the score to an unexpected 15-0 after 18 minutes.
The loss of Tom Daly in that opening exchange hurt the Irish team but when right wing David Panther hit the Italian line in the corner after a sweeping Irish break up the left on 21 minutes, it seemed the visitors were on bouncing back.
That feeling was short lived and although the outside centre who had scored the first two Italian tries had to leave the field, his replacement, Giovanni Benvenuti, quickly made his presence felt and ran in a third touchdown, this time straight through the Irish defence. Nothing other than very soft could describe the score and while Rory Scannell added a penalty to pull the sides back to 20-10, Ireland went into half time needing to tighten up their whole game in the physical challenge.
But Italy were relentless and while they were physical their fourth try was finely judged, a cross kick from the outhalf on 45 minutes perfectly placed into the hands of right wing David Bonietti , who ran in unopposed for 25-10.
It was then Ireland surged back. A push over try following an Irish lineout from Jerry Sexton, Jonny's younger brother, just short of the hour made it 25-15. Scannell, who kicked wonderfully on the night, added a penalty for 25-18 and as Ireland picked up the tempo Italy went backwards.
Finally on 73 minutes Rory Scholes fetched a high Stephen Crosbie crosskick and touched down, Scannell converting for 25-25.
Ireland: S Olding (Belfast Harlequins); D Panter (Corinthians), T Daly (Lansdowne), R Scannell (Dolphin), R Scholes (Belfast Harlequins); S Crosbie (Old Belvedere), L McGrath (UCD); P Dooley (Lansdowne), G McGuigan (Newcastle Falcon), C Taylor (Malone), G Thornbury (UCD), J Donnan (Ballynahinch), C Joyce (Malone), J Van Der Flier (UCD), Ryan Murphy (Dolphin). Replacements - J Andrew (Ballymena), R Furniss (Worcester), A Boland (Lansdowne), S McCarthy (Shannon), P Timmins (UCD), J Creighton (Malone), M Roche (Lansdowne), D Leader (Galwegians)