Italy hold off Ireland for vital win in Women’s Six Nations thriller

Vittoria Vecchini scored twice as Italy held on to win  (Getty Images)
Vittoria Vecchini scored twice as Italy held on to win (Getty Images)

Hooker Vittoria Vecchini scored a brace of tries as Italy held firm against a late Ireland onslaught to triumph 27-21 in a Women’s Six Nations thriller in Dublin.

Vecchini barged over the line from close range in the 25th minute and repeated the trick in the second half following a superb break from winger Alyssa D’Inca at the RDS Arena. That second score gave the Azzurre a 22-7 advantage and they later led 27-14 before the hosts came roaring back, only to fall agonisingly short with their final stand.

Ireland had taken an early lead when Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi was adjudged to have committed a deliberate knock-on and sent to the sin bin, with referee Hollie Davidson awarding the home side a penalty try.

However, Vecchini’s two tries and further scores from Valeria Fedrighi and winger Aura Muzzo turned the game in the visitors’ favour, Muzzo diving over in the corner just minutes after having a try ruled out by the TMO for a forward pass.

Ireland refused to throw in the towel, however, and Katie Corrigan intercepted a loose pass to sprint in under the posts, leaving Dannah O’Brien a simple conversion with a minute remaining to narrow the deficit to six points.

Roared on by a record crowd of 6,605, the home side piled on the pressure and worked their way to within two metres of the Italian line, only to lose the ball in the tackle as Italy clung on for the win.

It was the perfect response to their opening weekend hammering at the hands of all-conquering England and means the Azzurre climb to third in the Women’s Six Nations table after two rounds.

Full-back Lauren Delaney was carried off on a stretcher with a neck injury shortly before half-time but was later seen sitting amongst the Ireland substitutes.