Italy U20 14-38 Ireland U20
Ireland ground out a five-try victory over Italy to ensure second place in Pool B of the U20 World Championship but missed out on the semi-finals due to results elsewhere.
After the opening 42-16 victory against England was followed by a 45-17 loss to Australia, Ireland knew they needed a big, bonus-point win and results to go their way elsewhere to have any chance of qualifying for the last four.
Noel McNamara's were 31 points clear in the first half in Santa Fe but Italy rallied to close the margin to 24 in the end.
Point difference ultimately proved irrelevant however as a late try for France earned them a bonus point in a 26-47 defeat to Argentina, taking them to 11 points and ahead of the other runners-up Ireland and New Zealand.
Ireland will face England in the 5th place play-off semi-final on Monday (7.30pm Irish time). Hosts Argentina face Australia and South Africa take on France in the last four proper.
Italy had only lost to England by a point but Ireland exerted pressure on their Six Nations rivals from the start, opting for a five-metre scrum from an early penalty that led to prop Michael Milne crashing over in the seventh minute. Ben Healy added the extras.
Munster outhalf Healy added a penalty five minutes later before centre Cormac Foley took an inside pass from Rob Russell to touch down for Ireland's second try. Healy made it 17-0 with 16 minutes gone.
On the only occasion in the opening period Italy managed to get near Ireland's line, the Boys in Green turned it over, but it wasn't until the 33rd minute that Ireland increased their lead.
Again it was the front-row delivering, Azur Allison, who missed the loss to Australia with concussion, driving over from close range. Healy converted for a 24-point advantage.
The bonus was secured three minutes before the interval, Russell finishing in the corner after a lovely one-handed reverse pass from Healy. The Garryowen man converted the try he had created.
Ireland couldn't keep their opponents scoreless until the break however, scrum-half Alessandro Fusco sniping over after a succession of penalties to touch down with the clock five minutes into the red, and it was 31-7 at half-time.
Italy struck a further blow to Ireland's points difference as they forced a penalty try off a scrum in the 42nd minute and threatened to score again.
Having looked in complete control, Ireland were now under pressure and it took until the 54th minute for them to get a foothold back in Italian territory. A series of pick and goes ended with lock Ryan Baird scoring Ireland's fifth.
Ireland had 20 minutes left to bank the three or four tries they would likely need but the humidity and midday heat was starting to take its toll. Italy enjoyed an extended spell of possession but, fortunately for Ireland, lacked a cutting edge.
With five minutes to play, Federico Mori hit Healy late and Ireland kicked for the corner. Dylan Tierney-Martin looked to be over but was held up and Russell dropped a pass from Healy with the line at his mercy.
They came back once again however and scrum-half Colm Reilly thought he had grounded a loose ball over the line but it was ruled out for a knock-on.
In the end, Ireland were forced to settle for a highly creditable 24-point win that is still unlikely to be enough to progress.