Jordan Larmour’s tries help Ireland U-20s pip Italy
Outstanding performance from St Mary’s man edges Ireland to hard-earned win
Johnny McPhillips kicks a penalty for Ireland during the narrow victory over Italy.
Ireland could have lost but escaped with a victory for the second week in a row. The overwhelming feeling will be one of relief after another disjointed performance illuminated fitfully with two cracking tries from the outstanding Jordan Larmour.
The visitors were poor in the first half, fortunate to be 6-3 ahead at the interval, through two penalties from outhalf Johnny McPhillips. Italy were far sharper, played the better rugby and brought their backline into play, something that the visitors largely neglected.
Ireland’s set piece proved the exception to the general torpor, the lineout excellent and the scrum, much more resolute than it was against the Scots. The visitors though were terribly pedestrian with the ball and porous, at times alarmingly so, without.
Jordan Larmour, who had saved Ireland twice in the first half with great covering tackles, scored the first try of the game, seconds after the restart, grabbing a loose ball from a Johnny Stewart box-kick and tearing 55 metres down the touchline to score. McPhillips added a superb conversion. Superb break Italy’s outhalf Antonio Rizzi kicked a second penalty to reduce the deficit to 13-6 and then after Ireland conceded three penalties at the maul, hooker Massimo Ceciliani was driven over. Rizzi missed the conversion but tagged on a penalty when the Italians got their own back for a scrum turnover to make it 14-13.
Colm Hogan’s superb break and offload put Larmour in space and he finished for a second try, which McPhillips converted but Ireland conceded a try virtually from the restart to Marco Zanon. Rizzi crucially missed the conversion but in the space of 60 seconds, Ireland had another try, replacement Tommy O’Brien charging down a clearing kick and regathering to touch down.
Replacement outhalf Conor Fitzgerald tagged on the conversion to make it 27-19, an advantage that proved just enough as they conceded another converted try from a maul, to hang on by a point.
ITALY U-20: M Cioffi; A Bronzini, L Vaccari, M Zanon, D Schiabel; A Rizzi, C Trussardi; D Rimpelli, M Riccioni, M Ceciliani; G Baldino, G Venditti; J Bianchi, L Masselli, G Licata.
IRELAND UNDER-20: C Hogan (Dublin University); J Larmour (St Mary’s College), G Mullin (UCD), C Frawley (UCD), C Nash (Young Munster); J McPhillips (Ballynahinch), J Stewart (QUB); J Conway (UL Bohemian), T McElroy (Lansdowne), C Connolly (Dublin University); F Wycherley (Young Munster), O Dowling (Lansdowne); C Gallagher Corinthians, capt), P Boyle (Lansdowne), C Doris (St Mary’s).