IRELAND capitalised on an early Italian sending off to score nine tries which allowed them to emphatically win their Six Nations Round 3 clash at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
Ultimately, it proved a bloodless victory for Ireland, and despite scoring 57 points Ireland coach Andy Farrell will have been disappointed with a lot of Ireland’s play.
Joey Carbery opened the scoring with a 4th minute try in a move that had been sparked by a deft pop from Peter O’Mahony to Caelan Doris, and the number eight punctured a big hole in the Italian defence before offloading to Dan Sheehan, who had the simple task of releasing his outhalf to score.
Italy got on the board through a well struck penalty from full back Edoardo Padovani in the 15th minute but any hopes the Azzurri had of causing an upset ended as early as the 19th minute when replacement hooker Epalahame Faiva received a straight red card for a high tackle, when his shoulder made contact with the chin of his opposite number Sheehan.
As Italy had lost a hooker to injury, and his replacement to a red card, Italy then had to reduce their numbers to thirteen in order to facilitate a scrum, due to one of rugby’s bizarre laws, and in the 21st minute Ireland crossed again, with James Lowe breaking down the left touchline and feeding the supporting Jamison Gibson-Park to run in an easy score.
Debutant full back Michael Lowry had a wonderful moment in the 29th minute as he capped his first appearance for his country with a try, as he was able to utilise his wonderful dancing feet to pick off centre Juan Ignacio Brex in a one-on-one to waltz in Ireland’s third try.
The bonus try was wrapped up by half time when captain Peter O’Mahony crashed over in the left corner in the 38th minute, for his first ever Six Nations score, after being fed by Garry Ringrose, and the half finished with Italian outhalf Paolo Garbisi slotting a penalty from straight in front of the Irish posts to make it 24-6 at the break.
Ireland took a while to take advantage of their numerical advantage in the second half, but they eventually put real pace on the ball in the 51st minute which created a huge overlap out on the left and Gibson-Park’s long looping pass to the left was easily collected by his Leinster teammate Lowe who just had to catch and fall over the line for the try, and five minutes later Lowry was in for his second try after being fed by Jonathan Sexton, to make it 36-6.
The game lost all shape and structure at this point, with little attacking play on show, but second row Ryan Baird did score an opportunistic try in the 70th minute when he charged down an attempted box kick from Alessandro Fusco before picking and diving over the line in one movement.
Italy’s replacement Braam Steyn received a yellow card in the 75th minute for deliberately slapping the ball into touch near his own line, and Ireland scored from first phase possession off of the resulting scrum, when Lowry unselfishly fed Lowe outside him for a simple try in the left corner, when the Ulster youngster could probably have scored his hat-trick.
Ireland got their ninth and final try of the game in the last minute when replacement second row Kieran Treadwell crashed over from close range after a quick popped pass from Craig Casey right on the Italian line.
Scorers for Ireland: Carbery (1 try, 2 cons), Sexton (4 cons), Lowry and Lowe (2 tries each), Gibson-Park, O’Mahony, Baird, Treadwell (1 try each) Scorers for Italy: Padovani (1 pen), Garbisi (1 pen) Ireland: Lowry; Hansen, Ringrose, Henshaw, Lowe; Carbery, Gibson-Park; Porter, Sheehan, Furlong; Beirne, Baird, O'Mahony (capt), van der Flier, Doris.
Subs: Hume for Ringrose (HIA 3), Ringrose for Hume (9), Kilcoyne for Porter (43), Sexton and Hume for Carbery and Ringrose (54), Conan for Doris (55), Bealham, Treadwell and Casey for Furlong, Beirne and Gibson-Park (61), Ringrose for Henshaw (68), Herring for Sheehan (69) Italy: Padovani; Bruno, Brex, Marin, Ioane; Garbisi, Varney; Fischetti, Lucchesi, Ceccarelli; Cannone, Ruzza; Pettinelli, Lamaro (capt), Halafihi.
Subs: Faiva for Lucchesi (8), Nemer for Bruno (20), Pasquali and Fusco for Ceccarelli and Varney (40), Zuliani for Cannone (49), Steyn for Pettinelli (55), Pettinelli for Lamaro (62), Zanon for Marin (66), Sisi for Ruzza (68), Marin for Garbisi (77) Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)