Ireland scored eight tries to thrash Italy 56-19 in Dublin on Saturday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
After clinching a dramatic, but somewhat fortunate, 15-13 victory over France in Paris last week, the Irish were more direct and clinical against a below-par Italian side at a packed Aviva Stadium.
Such was Ireland’s dominance that they secured the four-try bonus point by the 35th minute.
The Irish, and their forwards in particular, were in full flight from the outset. The opening score came when centre Robbie Henshaw went on a perfectly timed run to dash over. Johnny Sexton added the conversion and it wasn’t long before Conor Murray’s converted try doubled their lead.
Ireland’s forwards continued to bash away at the opposition’s defence, making easy metres over the gainline, enabling Bundee Aki and Keith Earls to cross for two further tries and a 28-0 lead at the break.
Italy struggled to build any momentum early in the second half, as Ireland became even more ruthless.
From a dominant scrum, the ball was sent wide and Henshaw, despite being on the receiving end of a poor pass, ran 10m to complete his brace. And when captain Rory Best went over for Ireland’s sixth try, the visitors were facing a humiliating defeat.
To their credit, Italy responded with tries by Tommy Allan, Edoardo Gori and Matteo Minozzi. But left wing Jacob Stockdale’s second-half brace just served to highlight Ireland’s sheer supremacy in a match where they were offered little resistance.
Ireland – Tries: Robbie Henshaw (2), Conor Murray, Bundee Aki, Keith Earls, Rory Best, Jacob Stockdale (2). Conversions: Johnny Sexton (5), Joey Carbery (3).
Italy – Tries: Tommy Allan, Edoardo Gori, Matteo Minozzi. Conversions: Allan (2).
Ireland – 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Jack McGrath.
Subs: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Jordan Larmour.
Italy – 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Braam Steyn, 6 Sebastien Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Nicola Quaglio
Subs: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Maxime Mata Mbanda, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Jayden Hayward.
Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images