Ireland U20s registered their first win of the 2018 U20 Six Nations with a 38-34 victory over Italy. Similarly, France continued their impressive start to the campaign with a nine-try 69-19 demolition of Scotland. England secured a bonus point win against Wales in the other Round Two fixture.
For France, Romain Ntamack once again stole the show with a fantastic performance with the boot and ball in hand. For Ireland, a double for James McCarthy helped his side to an important victory at Donnybrook.
Italy Red Card Mars Irish Win
However, Ireland’s clash with Italy was undermined by the sending off of back-row Jacopo Bianchi. The Italian’s dangerous tip tackle on Ireland’s Jack Dunne was undeniably worthy of the red card and he faces a lengthy ban for his actions.
Losing a man in the fashion they did couldn’t have come at a worse time for Italy. Only nine minutes in, the scores were level at 5-5, but had to adopt a backs-to-the-wall approach as they faced a barrage of attacks from the young Irishmen.
WATCH!!! Jacopo Bianchi was red-carded for a horrendous spear-tackle on Ireland’s Jack Dunne in last nights Under 20s fixture!! pic.twitter.com/t2YgGAd8gl
— An Pucan (@anpucangalway) February 10, 2018
Hugh O’Sullivan, Cormac Daly and Peter Sullivan all touched down to add to James McCarthy’s score early on. Even with a man down, the Italians didn’t seem to accept the inevitable. A penalty kick and a converted Niccolo Cannone try kept the score to 31-15 at the break.
When Jack Aungier scored for the Irish just after half time, it seemed like Ireland were likely to build a big score against Italy. However, Harry Byrne’s conversion on 44 minutes would be the last points Ireland would score in the second half.
Italian Fightback Signals Positive Progression
The Italians emerged from the break a totally different team. Three tries of their own through Damiano Mazza, Antonio Rizzi and Edoardo Iachizzi piled the pressure on against Ireland. Had the clock not stopped at 80 minutes, the Italians would have looked the likely winners.
A tense finish allowed Ireland to scrape a four-point win and leave with maximum points. Even with 14-men, Italy were undoubtedly the better team. They’re quietly building and despite a second successive loss, look favourably in beating Scotland and could even snatch victory against Wales to finish the Championship strongly.
Ireland are yet to face Wales, Scotland and England. Perhaps Scotland being the likeliest of victories, but both England and Wales look stronger and capable of overturning the Irish.
Scotland Fall to French Demolition
Another strong showing for France against Scotland confirmed their status as a genuine title contender. Nine tries, including a hat-trick from centre Adrien Seguret swept Scotland away.
However, winger Pierre Boudehent’s try that was France’s pick of the tries. Another outstanding performance from fly-half Ntamack, spotted the gap to break the defensive line and a long looping pass out wide found Boudehent who raced over the line.
— Paul Eddison (@pauleddison) February 9, 2018
Ntamack showed just how good his all round game is. 20 points from the boot and a steady hand in the French attack guided his side to a second successive bonus point.
Further tries from Maxence Lemardelet, Maxime Lamothe, Baptiste Heguy, Lucas Tauzin and Louis Carbonel rounded off a superb evening for the French.
French, English Beginning to Dominate U20 Six Nations
The French are undoubtedly building momentum, as are the English, so an Anglo-French clash in Beziers on 9 March is looking like a title winning contest.
However, the French will want to address their defensive issues that allowed Scotland to score 19 points in the second half. England will exploit any opportunity that shows any weakness in the French defence.
For now though, the week off will give teams time to regroup, bolsters squads and make preparations before Round Three kicks off on 23 February.
— FF Rugby (@FFRugby) February 9, 2018
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