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Dublin: 8°C Monday 19 April 2021
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5 players who stood out in Emerging Ireland's cruise over Italy

Four tries and a clean sheet. Ireland’s Tbilisi Cup opener wasn’t all bad.

JJ Hanrahan

THERE PROBABLY WEREN’T any Northampton fans watching the Georgian union’s live stream of today’s Tbilisi Cup opener, but when they see the footage they will have reason to get excited about JJ Hanrahan’s arrival at Franklin’s Gardens.

Ignore the Kerryman’s three missed conversions – all from acute angles on the right – in an otherwise fractured game, he was a creative bright spark that helped Ireland put the match beyond the Azzurri after just 27 minutes.

JJ Hanrahan Source: GRU/INPHO

With a hand in all three first-half tries, Hanrahan will surely look back fondly on the third score, brought about by his 50 metre break from inside his own half before timing his right-hand pass to Stuart McCloskey to perfection.

His cross-field kick to Andrew Conway was flawless too. Had the game not descended into a mire of mis-placed line-outs and scrums, then his second half may have had some special moments too.

Luke McGrath

A quietly effective afternoon. When Ireland were on the front foot he provided excellent service to his 10, particularly in the lead up to Eoin Griffin’s try. Attacking efforts before half-time were spoiled by Conan’s conceded penalty.

Jack Conan

Guilty of giving away a penalty when Ireland looked to build a first-half attack, but otherwise another example of how the number eight is capable of moving seamlessly up a level.

Jack Conan tackled Conan breaking one of many tackles. Source: GRU/INPHO

Ireland used Conan as a trustworthy short-range ball-carrier and he was particularly strong on exit strategy, gaining an extra few vital yards to give Hanrahan room to move Ireland upfield. We should reserve praise for his fellow Leinster back row Dan Leavy who was tireless in his ruck and maul defence. Together, they were a big reason behind Ireland’s clean sheet.

Matt Healy

Didn’t get on the score-sheet, but his raw pace was a lightning rod waiting to be struck throughout. Made a handful of useful breaks, but for the most part was covered off by a combination of a decent Italian drift and an Irish attack that went right on wide plays more often than left.

Matt Healy Source: GRU/INPHO

Perhaps should have put his name on the board on the stroke of half-time. He pushed his luck with the football skills: one deft touch off the left boot was followed up by a second, 40 metres out, that wasn’t so much overcooked as it was burnt to a crisp.

Still, he put himself in that position having created the most exciting phase of the final 50 minutes.

Stephen Archer

We’ll need a second look at the line-out to see exactly what went wrong but all in all, Munster tighthead had a good afternoon in hot Georgian conditions.

Against Italy, the scrum is never going to go at 100%, but the majority of the disruption suited Ireland as it came when they were already well clear.

In the loose Archer also carried well, laying good platform for his backs in both 22s.

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Hanrahan assists three tries as Ireland come out on top against Italy

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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