Crowley runs in Ireland's opening try.
bonus point

Crowley shines as 6-try Ireland coast past Italy

Andy Farrell’s side had little trouble in notching up another bonus-point win.

Ireland 36

Italy 0

THE IRELAND SUPPORTERS made their way to the Aviva Stadium today in expectation rather than anticipation, and in that sense Andy Farrell’s side delivered as they coasted to a 36-0 victory over Italy which keeps their Grand Slam ambitions firmly on track.

On the back of last weekend’s statement win in France, Ireland were heavily fancied to add another bonus-point win here and while Farrell will pick holes in the performance, the home side were utterly dominant across every aspect of the game.

Ireland’s tries came from Jack Crowley, Dan Sheehan (2), Jack Conan, James Lowe and Calvin Nash, with the bonus-point wrapped up early in the second half.

Much of Ireland’s best play had Crowley at the heart of it. The out-half oozed confidence throughout and while he will be disappointed with some of his kicking off the tee – missing three conversions – his heads-up approach and wonderful handling skills caused the visitors problems throughout.

It was an ideal day for rugby in Dublin, with blue skies and only the slightest of breezes greeting the two teams at Aviva Stadium as Caelan Doris led Ireland out for the first time as captain.

the-ireland-team-and-mascots-stand-for-the-national-anthem Caelan Doris captained Ireland for the first time. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

With the pleasantries out of the way the home side made a somewhat nervy start. Craig Casey sent an early box-kick straight of touch before Robbie Henshaw conceded a penalty at the breakdown which allowed Paolo Garbisi an opportunity to push the visitors into the lead. It looked a very kickable effort but the out-half shanked his kick wide to the right.

Slowly, Ireland began to find some rhythm in their play. Crowley looked lively from the off, weaving his way around the Italian defensive line and varying his approach.

It was no surprise the Ireland 10 was central to the opening score, which started with a quickly-taken Hugo Keenan penalty which saw the fullback roving up the pitch as Italy scrambled back into position.

Ireland worked their way into the 22, with a punchy Henshaw carry adding momentum before Casey and Crowley linked nicely in the right-hand corner, the scrum-half sending his Munster teammate through for his first try in senior rugby. 

jack-crowley-offloads-in-the-tackle-of-alessandro-izekor-and-paolo-garbisi Jack Crowley offloads in the tackle of Alessandro Izekor and Paolo Garbisi of Italy. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

It was a beautiful try built on patient attacking play, and although Crowley didn’t catch his conversion effort cleanly, the out-half had put his team 5-0 ahead with seven minutes played.

Ireland had opportunites to build on that lead but lacked cohesion at times, James Lowe knocking-on a fired Casey pass on the edge of the tryline. 

Italy had a fair share of the possession but had difficulty turning it into territory. Joe McCarthy shot up to clatter Garbisi with a huge tackle, before the visitors found themselves in a decent position in the Ireland 22, only to choose the wrong passes and get pushed back. 

A penalty against Andrew Porter allowed Italy kick to the corner but Ireland managed to disrupt the lineout before McCarthy delivered another dominant hit. Trying to save an attacking phase that was going nowhere, Garbisi clipped a crossfield to Ange Capuozzo but put too much weight on the kick. 

The game continued to be played mostly across the middle third until Ireland sparked into life again. Crowley’s gorgeous faded pass almost sent Keenan through, but as Italy got bodies back Ireland spun the ball across the pitch, Crowley producing another lovely offload before Henshaw and Stuart McCloskey combined to send Dan Sheehan over in the corner. This time Crowley nailed his kick.

joe-mccarthy Ireland's Joe McCarthy. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

Ryan Baird disrupted another Italian lineout before a penalty win brought Ireland back into the 22. The lineout was clean and after Baird and James Ryan both went close, Jack Conan muscled through a mass of blue jerseys to score Ireland’s third.

Crowley converted and Ireland were already one try short of the bonus point.

There was one late chance to add a fourth after a rampaging Baird charge led to Casey chipping into the Italy 22, but from the lineout Italy were happy to clear their lines and end the half, Ireland leading 19-0 at the break.

As the teams emerged for the second period it was a case of when, not it, the bonus-point score would arrive.

The answer was the 49th minute, Ireland slowly settling into the second half before Dan Sheehan drove over from a lineout maul. It was the Ireland hooker’s third try of the tournament and already he looks a smart bet for top try-scorer.

Moments later he almost had his hat-trick, only to be stopped inches from the line by Italy scrum-half Stephen Varney. Ireland kept possession and patiently kept prodding at Italy until Henshaw stretched over after a smart show-and-go. As Crowley lined up his kick referee Luke Pearce went to the TMO to check a double-movement on Henshaw, and the score was crossed out.

ryan-baird-makes-a-break-away-from-stephen-varney Ryan Baird makes a break away from Stephen Varney of Italy. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

Farrell’s next move to replace his entire front row while sending in Harry Byrne for his first cap since 2021. Byrne went to out-half as Crowley shifted to full-back, Keenan heading for the bench after taking a knock.

Entering the final 20 minutes Italy were reduced to 14 when Tommaso Menoncello was sent to the bin for a deliberate trip on Lowe.

The Ireland winger made sure his team took full advantage, using his strength to see off four Italian defenders to cross for Ireland’s fifth. From the touchline Crowley again clipped his conversion attempt wide.

Ireland played out the final moments in the Italy half, adding their sixth try in the closing minutes, Calvin Nash finishing out wide after a strong Stuart McCloskey carry and nice interplay between Crowley and Jamison Gibson-Park.

Harry Byrne added the extra two as Ireland wrapped up a stress-free afternoon in style. 

The home side came close to adding seventh, but Gibson-Park spilled the ball inches from the line with the last play of the game.

Ireland scorers:

Tries – Crowley, Sheehan [2], Conan, Lowe, Nash.

Conversions – Crowley [2/5], Byrne [1/1]

Italy scorers:

Penalty – Garbisi [0/1] 

IRELAND: Hugo Keenan (Harry Byrne, 56); Calvin Nash, Robbie Henshaw (Jordan Larmour, 63), Stuart McCloskey, James Lowe; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey (Jamison Gibson-Park, 72); Andrew Porter (Jeremy Loughman, 56), Dan Sheehan (Ronan Kelleher, 56), Finlay Bealham (Tom O’Toole, 56); Joe McCarthy, James Ryan (Iain Henderson, 60); Ryan Baird (Josh van der Flier, 66), Caelan Doris (capt), Jack Conan.

ITALY: Ange Capuozzo; Lorenzo Pani (Federico Mori 57), Juan Ignacio Brex, Tommaso Menoncello, Monty Ioane; Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney (Martin Page-Relo, 57); Danilo Fischetti (Mirco Spagnolo, 56), Gianmarco Lucchesi (Giacomo Nicotera, 56), Pietro Ceccarelli (Giosue Zilocchi, HT); Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza (Andrea Zambonin, 63); Alessandro Izekor, Manuel Zuliani (Ross Vintcent, 69), Michele Lamaro (capt).

Yellow card: Tommaso Menoncello 57

Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU)

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel