Ireland U18 fell to a surprise 22-17 defeat against Italy in their third game of the U18 Five Nations Festival.
Ireland had lost their opener 15-12 to England, but had backed that up with a stunning 43-0 win over Scotland, who lost 45-24 to England on Saturday. Italy meanwhile had only played Wales, losing that 24-9, though they had led at half time in that game, showing their potential ahead of this fixture.
Even so, Ireland would have fancied themselves to capitalise in this final fixture of their campaign. It was Italy who got on the scoresheet first though, with a try from centre Ludovico Franceso Vaccari, following a neat offload from stand off Antonio Rizzi, who converted the score to give the Azzurri a 7-0 lead.
As the half drew to a close, Italy doubled their lead thanks to a try from second row Edoardo Iachizzi after a dangerous lineout mood. Rizzi’s conversion confirmed Italy’s 14-0 half time lead.
Ireland came out firing in the second half though, determined to claw their way back into the game, and that determination paid off after seven minutes of the half as thrie number 8 and captain Caelan Doris, of Blackrock College, charged over off the tail of a maul, narrowing the gap to 14-5.
Italy bounced straight back though, with Yannack Abanga collecting a delicate chip to charge down the left hand touchline, Rizzi missed the conversion, but Italy were again fourteen points ahead at 19-5.
St Michael’s College’s Ronan Kelleher hit back for Ireland though, but an Italian penalty from Michelangelo Biondelli gave Italy an advantage that was just about comfortable enough.
Ireland kept the pressure up though, and were rewarded by a second try from the skipper Doris, with time running out though, it was too little, too late, with Ireland condemned to a 21-17 defeat.
Full Time: Ireland U18 17-21 Italy U18
Ireland U18 XV:
15 Hugh O’Sullivan (Belvedere College)
14 Ollie Brown (Harpenden RFC)
13 James Hume (RBAI)
12 Tommy O’Brien (Blackrock College)
11 Daniel Hurley (Crescent CC)
10 David Hawkshaw (Belvedere College)
9 Jonathon Stewart (Wallace High School)
1 Michael Milne (Cistercian College Roscrea)
2 Tadgh McCarthy (Bantry Bay RFC)
3 Tom O’Toole (Campbell College)
4 Matthew Dalton (Belfast Royal Academy)
5 Charlie Ryan (Blackrock College)
6 David Robb (Galwegians)
7 Sean Masterson (Portlaoise RFC)
8 Caelan Doris (Blackrock College, captain)
Replacements used: John McCusker (Rainey Old Boys) Ronan Kelleher (St. Michael’s College) Conor Dean (Blackrock College) Callum Reid (RBAI) James Newey (Christ College Brecon).
U18 5 Nations Festival Schedule:
England 15-12 Ireland
Wales 31-30 Scotland
Ireland 43-0 Scotland
Wales 24-9 Italy
Italy 21-17 Ireland
England 45-24 Scotland
England A v Italy – St Helen’s, 6th April, 17.15
Wales v England – St Helen’s, 6th April, 19.30