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Ulster starlet McPhillips gets his kicks as U20s hold their nerve

Italy 26 Ireland 27

Ireland can count their lucky stars above the quaint Stadio Chersoni that they came away from Italy with their second win in a week in the Under-20 Six Nations.

The Irish were quickly into their patterns. They just couldn't hold the ball long enough until out-half Johnny McPhillips kicked them in front in the 14th minute.

The Italians got a foothold through their big one-out runners. While they were unimaginative in how they went about their business, they had Ireland where they wanted them.

Eventually, the pressure had to tell and out-half Antonio Rizzi split the sticks from just left of the posts in the 30th minute.

It was hooker Tadgh McElroy's excellent pick-pocketing of No.8 Giovanni Licata which gave the Irish a chance for Ulsterman McPhillips to find territory.

The home side infringed at the subsequent lineout for McPhillips to shoot the lead points from a similar position in the 33rd minute.

The real fireworks came in the second half as wing Jordan Larmour twice gutted the Italians, first from Johnny Stewart's kick, then from Colm Hogan's offload either side of hooker Massimo Ceoiliani's maul try to have the Irish 20-14 ahead in the 67th minute.

The Italians turned the screw with centre Marco Zanon's powerhouse finish.

When Tommy O'Brien did all the work for the boys in green's third try, Italy had the stomach to strike back through flanker Jacopo Bianchi before Ireland controlled the ball to the end to see out the victory.

Belfast Telegraph

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