Poor start for Ireland U20’s who lose to Italy in opening round.
The Ireland U20 rugby team suffered a disastrous start to the 2017 world championships losing 22-21 in their opening game against the Italians.
Peter Malone’s side only played in patches and didn’t turn in an 80 minute performance with their defence found wanting.
Despite the lack lustre nature of the performance, Ireland came back from 15-3 down to lead 21-15 but again a defensive lapse saw the Azzurri hit back with a scintillating try at the death to go back into the lead.
Ciaran Frawley had a kick to snatch victory for Ireland, but he was off target.
Italy took an early lead with two tries. The first came from a well orchestrated line out maul that Ireland didn’t defend well with Cioffi getting the credit for the score.
The second came from a pick up off the laces from the Italian outhalf Rizzi who chipped ahead and collected before offloading to Fischetti who crossed for a fine try.
Conor Dean added a penalty to cut the gap to 9 before Rizzi slotted a sweet drop goal to give Italy a deserved 15-3 lead at the break.
Ireland needed a response and up stepped Munster’s Calvin Nash with two tries coupled with penalties from Dean and Frawley to edge Peter Malone’s side back in front. Nash was superb throughout and gave further indications of his potential for both Munster and Ireland in the future.
The overall theme of the day was some uncharactheristically poor defence from Ireland and despite taking a lead into the dying stages, they couldn’t close it out.
They now face an uphill struggle to qualify from a pool that also contains Scotland and New Zealand and in their current predicament, the will require two wins.
The Irish team reached the final of last year’s U20 World Championship in England.
Preparations have not been ideal heading into the tournament with Nigel Carolan ending his tenure as head coach to take up a role with Connacht. The controversy surrounding hooker Tadgh McElroy has also been an unwanted distraction.
McElroy was axed from the squad before they flew out to Georgia last week after it emerged he is set to sign for Saracens, with the hope of also playing for England in the future.
Ireland captain Paul Boyle could not hide his frustrations in his post match interview.
“Our first half performance wasn’t good enough. We came into it a bit more in the second half, got through a few phases, hardened up in ‘D’ (defence) and just fell short in the end. We’ll have to improve for the next day against Scotland,” he said.
“Everything seemed to go wrong in the first half. Our ‘D’ wasn’t good enough, our attack wasn’t good enough, we were under [ressure n a few scrums. We did get it together in the second half but just fell short.”