Ireland get World Cup off to the perfect start with massive win over Italy

Liam Finn was in fine form as his side won 36-12.

Ireland captain Liam Finn and Ireland manager Mark Aston (file pic).
Ireland captain Liam Finn and Ireland manager Mark Aston (file pic).
Image: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos/INPHO

IRELAND HAVE PULLED off the first upset of the Rugby League World Cup with the Wolfhounds stunning Italy 36-12 in sweltering conditions in Cairns.

Having amassed just 14 points at the 2013 World Cup, the Irish matched that tally inside 20 minutes and then kicked on in the second half after the Azzurri had threatened a comeback with tries either side of the interval.

While NSW Origin fullback James Tedesco and Italy’s star-studded forwards had their moments, the Azzurri looked rudderless in attack for the majority of the contest with their points coming via an interception and a regathered bomb.

Their cause wasn’t helped with the pre-game withdrawal of former Canberra Raiders playmaker Terry Campese.

Winger Liam McKay crossed for two of Ireland’s six tries while captain Liam Finn kicked six goals from seven attempts in a huge victory.

“It was a very good performance,” Finn said after the game. “I was really proud of everyone involved. Our forwards were massive.

“We trained really well in the two weeks leading up to it and I knew we were going to put in a performance, but we didn’t know what Italy were going to turn up with.”

Next up is big test against the Papua New Guinea Kumuls in Port Moresby next weekend, with the possibility of a quarter-final clash with England down the line.

© AFP 2017

- Additional reporting by Emma Duffy

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