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England U20 edged out by Italy in Six Nations play-off

Italy U20s hung on for a famous 38-31 victory over England in play off of the Six Nations Summer Series.

The hosts made a strong start and were rewarded with the first points of the game when they forced a penalty within the English 22 giving Nicolo Teneggi a shot at goal and Italy an early 3-0 lead. 

  • EnglandTries - Tom Carr-Smith, Ollie Fletcher, Iwan Stephens, Emeka Ilione, Tom Lockett, Cons - Sam Harris (3)
  • ItalyTries - PT, Tommaso Scramoncin, Ross Vintcent, Filippo Lazzarin Cons - Teneggi (2), Pens - Nicolo Teneggi (2), Giovanni Sante, Dropgoals - Nicolo Teneggi

England responded quickly as the pack pounded the Italian line with a string of phases making some room for Tom Carr-Smith to cleverly manoeuvre his way over the line from short-range for the first try of the evening. 

However, the Italians regained the lead almost immediately when Jed Walsh was deemed to have deliberately knocked-on denying Flavio Vaccari a certain try following an incisive run from Lorenzo Pani. Penalty try awarded and Walsh sent to the bin.

Massimo Brunello's side could not make the most of the one man advantage though as a swift double swung momentum in the visitors' favour. First from Ollie Fletcher powering over from short range followed by Toby Knight pouncing on a loose ball after a mix up in the Italian backline and sending Iwan Stephens racing into the corner to make it 19-10. 

The two teams continued exchanging blows as Italy cut the deficit down to two just five minutes later with a powerful driving maul that saw Tommaso Scramoncin crash over before regaining the lead through Ross Vintcent who cut a perfect line in midfield to cross the whitewash unopposed just after the half hour mark. 

Filippo Lazzarin rounded off a frantic first half with the Italians' fourth try of the day picking up from Teneggi's dropped ball and finding the gap in England's defence to expertly put it down under the sticks to extend their lead to 29-19 at the interval. 

The Azzurri continued to add scoreboard pressure after the break as an early penalty and drop goal increased their advantage to 16 points taking the game further away from Alan Dickens' side. 

England were in desperate need of the next score and got it when the captain Emeka Ilione rumbled over off a driving maul after Pani was shown yellow for a high tackle on Rekeiti Ma'asi-White that reduced the Italian defence to 14 men.

Teneggi squandered the opportunity to re-establish Italian superiority missing two penalties in quick succession before Tom Lockett set up a tense finish dotting down after a sustained period of pressure in the Italian 22 to reduce the gap to just four points with 15 minutes on the clock.

But hopes of completing the comeback were squashed when replacement fly-half Giovanni Sante kicked the decisive three points from the tee with two minutes to go to secure a 38-31 win and Italy's first ever back-to-back victories over England.


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