Ireland took on Italy, as both sides looked to put disappointing starts to their campaigns behind them.
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In case you missed them earlier in the week, here are today’s teams…
15. Simon Zebo
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Jared Payne
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Keith Earls
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray
1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Mike Ross
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Devin Toner
6. CJ Stander
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jamie Heaslip
16. Sean Cronin
17. Finlay Bealham
18. Nathan White
19. Ultan Dillane
20. Rhys Ruddock
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Ian Madigan
23. Fergus McFadden
15. David Odiete
14. Leonardo Sarto
13. Michele Campagnaro
12. Gonzalo Garcia
11. Mattia Bellini
10. Edoardo Padovani
9. Guglielmo Palazanni
1. Andrea Lovotti
2. Davide Giazzon
3. Lorenzo Cittadini
4. George Biagi
5. Marco Fuser
6. Francesco Minto
7. Alessandro Zanni
8. Sergio Parisse
16. Oliviero Fabiani
17. Matteo Zanusso
18. Dario Chistolini
19. Quintin Geldenhuys
20. Abraham Steyn
21. Alberto Lucchese
22. Kelly Haimona
23. Luke McLean
Some pics ahead of kick-off…
The High Hopes Choir have just performed Ireland’s Call as part of the “Together we can Tackle Homelessness” campaign.
Now we’re ready for kick-off…
Italy are on the attack early on.
Gonzalo Garcia sprints for the try line, but he’s tackled into touch by Conor Murray just before touching down.
Italy are penalised for accidental offside and Ireland get the scrum.
This should be a chance for them to clear out of the 22.
IRELAND 5-0 ITALY (TRIMBLE 7)
It’s a dream start for Ireland.
A Sexton box kick causes havoc in the Italian 22. Ireland regain possession and eventually the ball is worked out to Trimble, who finishes well.
Sexton misses the conversion from a difficult angle.
More danger for Italy, as they lose possession while attacking.
It’s kicked forward and Keith Earls nearly gets to the ball ahead of his Italian rival.
Great grubber kick from Henshaw for the onrushing Trimble, and Palazanni reads it well but has to put it out to touch.
It’s been an excellent start by Ireland.
We’re going to the TMO as Jack McGrath may have powered over the line…
Ireland have been totally dominant in these opening stages.
IRELAND 10-0 ITALY (MCGRATH 15)
IRELAND 12-0 ITALY (SEXTON CONVERSION)
Sexton makes no mistake with the conversion after the officials agree that McGrath grounded the ball legitimately.
The scoreline in no way flatters Ireland, who have been comfortably the better team so far.
Devin Toner makes Ireland’s third steal from an Italian lineout, before Payne is flattened and Italy regain possession.
Shortly thereafter, Henshaw is penalised for a knock on and Italy have a scrum just outside the Ireland 22.
Ireland concede another penalty for playing it the ground.
Italy now have a chance to register their first points of the afternoon.
IRELAND 12-3 ITALY (PADOVANI 24)
Edoardo Padovani makes no mistake with a penalty in front of the posts.
Italy badly needed that.
Worryingly for Ireland, Sexton is down following a strong late tackle by Parisse.
He’s holding his shoulder at the moment and receiving medical treatment, but he should be okay.
IRELAND 15-3 ITALY (SEXTON PENALTY 27)
Sexton recovers to kick the penalty after Parisse’s late tackle.
Ireland look well in control of this game.
Sexton’s kick towards Earls bounces into touch.
More pressure on the Italian defence now — the visitors must be exhausted already.
IRELAND 20-3 ITALY (STANDER TRY 31)
Excellent try that started with a clever Sexton offload to Earls to open up the Italian defence.
After Trimble was held up inches away from the try line, the ball is recycled and Stander powers through two Italian players before touching down.
Sexton drags the conversion wide.
George Biagi is taken off injured and replaced by Abraham Steyn.
Italy have to reshuffle their pack as a result.
Henshaw has a nasty clash of heads with Guglielmo Palazanni, causing him to draw blood as a result.
McFadden comes in to replace him temporarily.
IRELAND 25-3 ITALY (HEASLIP 40)
Super rugby from Ireland, as a counter-attacking move with a number of clever offloads involving Payne and Zebo eventually results in Heaslip powering over.
It’s surely the try of the Six Nations so far.
Sexton misses the conversion.
HALF-TIME: IRELAND 25-3 ITALY
So half-time, and Ireland completely deserve their comprehensive lead.
They’ve bullied the Italians and played some lovely flowing attacking rugby in the process.
Ireland have scored four tries in that 40 minutes — they had only scored two in the entire Six Nations before today.
The second half is underway…
Henshaw is back on for McFadden.
The latter has now come on and off again twice as a blood replacement.
IRELAND 30-3 ITALY (PAYNE 43)
IRELAND 32-3 ITALY (SEXTON CONVERSION 44)
Awful from Italy, as Payne intercepts a pass and crosses over for a simple try, before Sexton converts in front of the posts.
If it wasn’t game over before, it certainly is now.
IRELAND 37-3 ITALY (HEASLIP TRY 49)
IRELAND 39-3 ITALY (SEXTON CONVERSION 50)
Heaslip powers over for his second try of the afternoon before Sexton converts in front of the posts.
It’s Sexton’s last act of the game, as he’s replaced by Madigan.
This is not looking pretty for Italy.
It’s encouraging from an Irish perspective though, as they’ve shown plenty of excellent attacking rugby.
IRELAND 44-3 ITALY (CRONIN TRY 55)
IRELAND 46-3 ITALY (MADIGAN CONVERSION 55)
Earls takes a quick tap and go to catch Italy off guard, before Cronin powers through a weak Italian tackle and crosses over.
Madigan slots over the conversion.
IRELAND 46-8 ITALY (ODIETE TRY 59)
Padovani takes a quick tap and go, before a lovely long pass out to fullback Odiete allows him to cross over.
Haimona continues his 100% record from the boot in the Six Nations with a well-executed conversion.
Just before that Italy try, Ultan Dillane and Nathan White replaced Devin Toner and Mike Ross.
Lovely break from Cronin, before he passes to Henshaw — he’s held up, before Payne dives towards the line.
The TMO decides he didn’t ground it though.
Meanwhile, Rhys Ruddock replaces Stander for Ireland.
IRELAND 51-10 ITALY (MADIGAN TRY 64)
Following a spell of sustained pressure in the Italy 22, the ball is played out to Madigan, who shows lovely footwork to beat his man and cross over.
He then misses the conversion.
Finlay Bealham replaces Jack McGrath to make his Ireland debut.
The intensity has taken a dip in recent minutes, with the game all but over.
McFadden is on for a third time to take the place of Payne.
It’s been an understandably low key final few minutes.
Italy are ending this game strongly.
They’re currently camped in Ireland’s 22.
IRELAND 51-15 ITALY (SARTO TRY 75)
Odiete’s looping pass allows Sarto to cross over for another consolation try.
The TMO rejects claims that it was a forward pass.
Italy miss the subsequent conversion.
IRELAND 56-15 ITALY (MCFADDEN 79)
McFadden exploits a gap in the Italian defence to register yet another score.
Madigan adds the conversion.
Donnacha Ryan gets man-of-the-match for a consummate performance.
Seconds remain now…
FULL-TIME: IRELAND 58-15 ITALY
So that’s that. Ireland earn a convincing win.
There were plenty of positives, with Ireland illustrating the type of flowing, exciting rugby that they’ve been accused of lacking at times.
That said, Italy were poor and look set for another miserable campaign after today’s comprehensive loss.
Right, that’s all from me.
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