Rory Scannell landed a tremendous touchline conversion as the Ireland Under-20s fought back from a disastrous start and a 15-0 deficit to claim a share of the spoils with Italy in Avezzano tonight.

Taking over the place-kicking duties from the injured Tom Daly, Rory Scannell played a vital role in Ireland's comeback as they avoided being scalped by the Six Nations' bottom side.

The Italy Under-20s came into this game having lost their previous 14 matches at this age-grade, and Ireland were gunning for their 20th straight victory over Italy at Under-20 or Under-21 level.

But Mike Ruddock's youngsters endured a nightmare start, leaking tries to Vittorio Marazzi and Michele Campagnaro inside the opening eight minutes and talismanic centre Daly went off with an injured left arm.

Edoardo Padovani boosted Italy's lead to 15-0 before the visitors got off the mark, Daly's replacement David Panter darting over for a converted try and Scannell kicked Ireland back to within 10 points at half-time - 20-10.

Four minutes into the second half, Padovani's cross-field kick was gathered by winger David Michael Odiete for the Italians' third try and the momentum had swung again.

Ireland grew in stature as the match went on, an excellent lineout maul giving replacement lock Jerry Sexton a try. Scannell missed the conversion and a subsequent penalty, but the Dolphin clubman landed another three-pointer to make it 25-18 with 13 minutes left.

It was all Ireland in the closing stages, half-backs Luke McGrath and Steve Crosbie providing the direction as the green-shirted pack took the game to a tiring Italian pack that had scrummaged well during the opening hour.

Ireland looked the fresher of the two teams and Crosbie's perfectly placed kick out to the left was acrobatically gathered by Rory Scholes for a 74th minute try.

Scannell stepped up to land the levelling conversion from wide out on the left. Ireland had enough possession to force the winning score late on, but it did not come as the sides played out an breathless draw.

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