Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# Law
Ireland rack up 57 points after red card forces Italy down to 13 players
A little-known law meant the visitors had to remove another player after Hame Faiva’s sending-off.

Ireland 57

Italy 6

AT THE BEST of times, rugby’s law book can cause confusion. This was the worst of times.

A red card for Italy replacement hooker Hame Faiva in the 19th minute of this Six Nations clash against Ireland meant the visitors had to be reduced to 13 men for the rest of the game. Them’s the rules.

michael-lowry-celebrates-scoring-his-sides-sixth-try-with-josh-van-der-flier-robbie-henshaw-and-james-hume James Crombie / INPHO Ireland celebrate one of their nine tries. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Italy had already lost starting hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi to injury, meaning they didn’t have another player who could scrummage in the middle of the front row. That meant uncontested scrums and the lawbook says that meant Italy also having to take another player off the pitch.

The idea is to prevent teams from sneakily taking games to uncontested scrums when they are being pummeled in that department, but this all felt farcical in Dublin. The Italians even finished the game with only 12 players after a late yellow card.

Ireland already led 7-3 when referee Nika Amashukeli had to order the Italians down to 13 men and though the away side showed defiance in the face of their numerical disadvantage, Andy Farrell’s men were always going to run out resounding winners.

Ireland’s bonus-point win moves them back up to second in the Six Nations table, three match points behind leaders France, and they remain in the trophy mix. They must hope the in-form French slip up away to Wales or at home to England in their closing two games of this championship.

As for Ireland, this was poor preparation for the visit to Twickenham in two weekends’ time. It’s difficult to accurately measure the performance in these unique circumstances but Farrell will have been frustrated by some of the lack of accuracy. 

michael-lowry-james-hume-jamison-gibson-park-and-dan-sheehan-congratulate-try-scorer-joey-carbery Billy Stickland / INPHO Ireland celebrate Joey Carbery's early try. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

That said, he would have been delighted to watch Ulster fullback Mike Lowry scoring two tries on his Test debut, as well as watching left wing James Lowe dot down twice and look generally sharp on his return to international rugby after a hamstring injury. Josh van der Flier was player of the match for Ireland with another all-action display.

Second row Ryan Baird also grabbed a try on his first Six Nations start, while Joey Carbery, Jamison Gibson-Park, sub lock Kieran Treadwell, and captain Peter O’Mahony added tries as Ireland racked up a 51-point winning margin that could have been even bigger.

In truth, no one will really go home too happy from this one, with any outside possibility of a decent contest gone before the 20-minute mark.

Italy will feel hard done by the law, Ireland will be frustrated not to have played better, and the supporters who paid in didn’t really get their money’s worth at the Aviva Stadium.

Still, Ireland kept themselves in contention for the Six Nations title and now have two weeks to ready themselves for the visit to Twickenham. This championship ain’t over yet.

michael-lowry-celebrates-scoring-his-sides-third-try-with-peter-omahony Dan Sheridan / INPHO Mike Lowry scored on his Ireland debut. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland started at high tempo in Dublin as their pass-heavy attack stretched Italy in the opening minutes, early darts from Caelan Doris and Lowry serving as warning shots.

The first try arrived in just the fourth minute as O’Mahony’s lovely tip-in pass sent Doris through and he offloaded to hooker Dan Sheehan, whose pass allowed Carbery to finish close to the posts, converting his own score.

Italy did settle into the game a little more thereafter, leading to fullback Edoardo Padovani hammering over a penalty from the halfway line after Tadhg Beirne was caught offside chasing a Gibson-Park kick.

The Italians followed up their opening score with a big breakdown steal from number eight Toa Halafihi but then the game was utterly transformed by the red card for Hame Faiva for a high tackle on Dan Sheehan, resulting in Italy being reduced to 13 men when there was a scrum a couple of minutes later. Halafihi was the unlucky one who had to come off due to the quirk of the laws.

Ireland almost immediately took advantage as Lowe broke down the left with a big fend and fired a pass back inside for Gibson-Park to cross for the Irish score.

There was almost a giddiness to Farrell’s men over the next 20 minutes as they forced passes and missed a couple of opportunities but the bonus point was secured before the break.

peter-omahony-scores-his-sides-fourth-try Dan Sheridan / INPHO Peter O'Mahony on his way to scoring Ireland's fourth. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Debutant fullback Lowry crossed after half an hour, breaking outside Italy centre’s Juan Ignacio Brex tackle attempt off a Carbery pass on second phase of a close-range scrum attack.

It was captain O’Mahony who notched the fourth, charging over in the left corner as Italy struggled badly to deal with the momentum Ireland were able to build with 14 players.

Out-half Paolo Garbisi did knock over three points off the tee just before the interval and he also had a chance to reduce the lead just after half-time but was wide of the mark.

Italy were showing some grit as Ireland continued to struggle for accuracy on their set-piece plays, even with the big advantage, with loosehead prop Danilo Fischetti winning an impressive turnover penalty to halt one attack.

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But they caved again in the 52nd minute after a half-break from Beirne left Italy scrambling and Gibson-Park floated a long pass out to a four-man overlap wide on the left for Lowe to score. 

Lowry soon has his second off an offload by Johnny Sexton, who had just come onto the pitch for Carbery, and the sub out-half tacked on the two extra points for 36-6.

johnny-sexton-and-michael-lowry-with-paolo-garbisi Dan Sheridan / INPHO Johnny Sexton offloads for Mike Lowry's second try. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Second row Baird was next over as he blocked down replacement scrum-half Alessandro Fusco’s box kick and gathered the ball to dive over, with Sexton again converting. 

Italy ended the game with just 12 players on the pitch after replacement forward Braam Steyn was sin-binned for deliberately knocking on an Irish pass, and Ireland immediately scored their eighth try as they shifted the ball wide left for Lowe to bag his second.

Replacement second row Treadwell – making his first Test appearance since 2017 – finished the try-scoring for Ireland with the clock in the red and Sexton added two more.

Ireland scorers:

Tries: Joey Carbery, Jamison Gibson-Park, Mike Lowry [2], Peter O’Mahony, James Lowe [2], Ryan Baird, Kieran Treadwell

Conversions: Joey Carbery [2 from 5], Johnny Sexton [4 from 4]

Italy scorers:

Penalties: Edoardo Padovani [1 from 1], Paolo Garbisi [1 from 1]

IRELAND: Mike Lowry; Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose (blood – James Hume ’3 to ’9, permanent ’53), Robbie Henshaw (HIA – Garry Ringrose ’68), James Lowe; Joey Carbery (Johnny Sexton ’53), Jamison Gibson-Park (Craig Casey ’62); Andrew Porter (Dave Kilcoyne ’44), Dan Sheehan (Rob Herring ’69), Tadhg Furlong (Finlay Bealham ’62); Tadhg Beirne (Kieran Treadwell ’62), Ryan Baird; Peter O’Mahony (captain), Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris (Jack Conan ’54).

ITALY: Edoardo Padovani; Pierre Bruno (Ivan Nemer ’20), Juan Ignacio Brex, Leonardo Marin (Marco Zanon ’66), Montanna Ioane; Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney (Alessandro Fusco ‘HT); Danilo Fischetti, Gianmarco Lucchesi (Epalahame Faiva ’9 (red card ’19)), Pietro Ceccarelli (Tiziano Pasquali ‘HT); Niccolò Cannone (Manuel Zuliani ’49), Federico Ruzza (David Sisi ’69); Giovanni Pettinelli (Braam Steyn ’53 (yellow card ’75)) , Michele Lamaro (captain) (HIA – Giovanni Pettinelli ’64 to ’74), Toa Lalafihi (forced off under law ’20).

Referee: Nika Amashukeli [GRU].

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