Ireland got their Six Nations campaign back on track as they scored six tries to demolish Italy 48-10 in Rome on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The win momentarily moved Ireland above both Scotland and England into third place on the log. England will face second-placed Wales in Cardiff later on Saturday.
It was easily Ireland’s most effective attacking performance, after they struggled to string things together in their opening two losses to France and Wales.
While Italy were highly competitive against both France and England, only to suffer collapses from the 60-minute mark, against Ireland they struggled to match their previous first-half efforts. It certainly did not help their efforts as they were reduced to 13 men in the second half as Giosue Zilocchi and Luca Bigi were shown yellow cards in quick succession.
Not only did Italy slip tackles far too easily, but they struggled to secure ball from the set piece and were dominated at the breakdown, conceding six of their eight first-half penalties in that area.
Italy drew first blood through a penalty from Garbisi, but from there the first half belonged to Ireland, who were denied a clear opening try by TMO Romain Poite. That did not matter much as Garry Ringrose scored the first try of the match minutes later.
Italy had their best period of pressure between the 20th and 30th minute, but found themselves outmuscled by the Irish pack. Ireland then worked their way upfield and added a second try when fullback Hugo Keenan broke the line and showed just enough pace to score.
Another set of good hands combined with some poor defending from the Italians helped flank Will Connors score Ireland’s third try. Italy managed a much-needed response before the break when Paolo Garbisi got his hands through a tackle and put Johan Meyer over for a try. Ireland went into half time 27-10 ahead.
Ireland secured the bonus point within a couple of minutes of the second half as CJ Stander drove over from close range, before Connors got his brace after Zilocchi and Bigi were sent to the sin bin. While they did lose a bit of momentum from there, Ireland managed to add one more try when Sexton sent Keith Earls over in the corner after the full-time hooter.
Italy – Try: Johan Meyer. Conversion: Paolo Garbisi. Penalty: Garbisi.
Ireland – Tries: Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan, Will Connors (2), CJ Stander, Keith Earls. Conversions: Jonathan Sexton (5). Penalties: Sexton (2).
Italy – 15 Jacapo Trulla, 14 Luca Sperandio, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Carlo Canna, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Michele Lamaro, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 David Sisi, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Luca Bigi (c), 1 Andrea Lovotti
Subs: 16 Gianmarco Luccesi, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Giosue Zilocchi, 19 Niccolo Cannone, 20 Maxime Mbanda, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Frederico Mori, 23 Mattia Bellini.
Ireland – 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jonathan Sexton (c), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Will Connors, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Subs: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Keith Earls.
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