Ireland has beaten Italy 38-14 this afternoon to secure second place in Pool B of the U20 World Championship and with that, a five-try bonus-point victory for Noel McNamara’s side in what was a huge effort in order to keep their semi-final aspirations alive.
After a big opening performance and victory against England and later a 45-17 loss to Australia, Ireland needed a big bonus point win this afternoon to have any chance of making the last four. Ireland must now anxiously await the results of France v Argentina (5pm) and South Africa v New Zealand (7.30pm) later today to confirm their fate in this tournament.
Ireland will need favours in the form of a French victory and South Africa or New Zealand to win by 40+ points with no try bonus point for the loser to advance. Otherwise, they will play two more games in an effort to secure fifth place overall.
Watch the full highlights below:
It was Ireland that got out of the blocks first, opting for a five-metre scrum from an early penalty that led to prop Michael Milne crashing over in the seventh minute. Ben Healy added the extras.
Munster out-half Healy who was Ireland’s star of the show added a penalty five minutes later before centre Cormac Foley took an inside pass from Rob Russell to touch down for Ireland’s second try which Healy converted, 17-0 to Ireland.
Ireland was very dominant during the opening 20 minutes, having over 80% of the possession at times but it wasn’t until the 33rd minute when the opportunity came to increased their lead with Number 8 Azur Allison driving over from close range. Healy converted for a 24-point advantage after 33 minutes of play.
Three minutes later was worth the wait to see Ireland get their bonus point try which was scored by Rob Russell with an beauty of an assist from Healy who converted from close range. Ireland looking in control having forced Italy to make 90+ tackles in the first-half.
However, Italy rang in five substitutions after 38 minutes of play which saw them get their first try on the board from their scrum-half Alessandro Fusco which they converted to cut Irelands lead to 31-7 at halftime.
Italy found form in the second half when the forced a penalty try off a scrum in the 42nd minute and even threatened to score again. Having looked in complete control in the first 40 minutes, Ireland looked slightly rocked by the Italian pressure, however, that subsided and Ireland went over the line for their fifth try from lock Ryan Baird.
Now 31-14 ahead, Noel McNamara’s team had the remaining 20 minutes of play to get some tries on the board to help their points differential. However, Italy found their second wind and had most of the possession with no real threat, and Ireland found themselves defending for most of the final quarter of the game.
As fulltime approached, Ireland got a penalty for a late challenge on Healy to which he kicked to the corner, Ireland’s Dylan Tierney Martin looked to be over the line after winning the lineout but was held up short. Ireland launched their final attack when scrum-half Colm Reilly looked to have grounded a loose ball but the referee ruled it as a knock-on.
A very good 24-point win in the end for Ireland, that is still unlikely to be enough to progress at the time of writing, but they now must wait and see the outcomes of the other ongoing fixtures to see what’s in store for them next.