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Three-try Ireland complete Italian job to maintain winning home Six Nations form

Adam Griggs’ charges got their campaign back underway with a win at Energia Park.

Ireland celebrate Ciara Griffin's try.
Ireland celebrate Ciara Griffin's try.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Ireland 21

Italy 7

EIGHT MONTHS ON from the sudden halt of their Six Nations campaign, Ireland have maintained their winning form at home with a well-earned win over Italy.

Ireland made a nervy start, but they finished with three tries on the board after a complete display at a crowdless Energia Park.

Lindsay Peat, Claire Molloy and team captain Ciara Griffin all breached the Italian cover on the back of excellent team moves, while out-half Hannah Tyrrell had a flawless night with her conversion kicks.

Securing victories in all their home games was a target for Adam Griggs’ side coming into this tournament. Their final outing against France next week should be in Stadium Lille Métropole, but the French outfit have agreed to play that fixture in Dublin on account of Ireland’s Covid-19 protocols which had put the game in doubt.

After such a long break from Six Nations action, there was bound to be some rustiness on display. And there were some uncharacteristic handling and lineout errors in Ireland’s first half performance.

That, coupled with some intense attacking play from the Italians made it difficult for Ireland to settle into the game. And they found themselves trailing on the scoreboard after the opening quarter.

The Italy try came after a two-minute spell of sustained pressure. Ireland looked to have averted the danger when Tyrrell cleared the ball into touch, but the Italians came hunting again with Melissa Bettoni diving over.

Michela Sillari added the extras to give the visitors their deserved advantage.

Ireland mustered a quick response by winning a penalty, and Tyrrell’s kick put the hosts in a strong position. But Italy held firm, driving the Irish attack back before winning  a scrum.

Ireland came close again on 23 minutes when Béibhinn Parsons’ pace was unleashed along the wing. They worked the ball back in and tried to spread the play out wide, but a knock-on saw them relinquish possession again.

The hosts started to relax after that and force a shift in momentum as they became more efficient in their play.

They earned their reward in the 36th minute when Peat barrelled her way over the tryline.

The TMO was consulted before awarding the score, with Tyrrell splitting the posts to complete the equaliser.

claire-molloy-scores-a-try Claire Molloy reaches over for Ireland's second try. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Ireland capitalised on their advantage to go back on the attack from the restart, and their confidence resulted in them taking the lead. Tyrrell began the move with a brilliant catch before some crisp offloading saw Molloy mark her return to the Ireland team with a try.

Tyrrell was accurate once again from the conversion kick, as Ireland took a seven-point lead into the break.

Ireland picked up from where they left off in the second half, finding the corner in the opening moments to put Italy backs to the wall again.

Laura Sheehan had a well-executed interception and a super tackle that ultimately ended in a penalty for Ireland, while Molloy was presented with a half-chance to double her try tally when she made an excellent break forward.

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Ireland crossed over for their third try on the back of a maul in the 70th minute. Captain Griffin leaped over to dot the ball down, with the referee referring to the TMO before giving Ireland a penalty try. 

There were sniffs of an Italian fightback but nothing that could rattle an Ireland team that had long shaken off any of those first-half wobbles.

Ireland will round off their Covid-delayed Six Nations with that home game against France next weekend.

Ireland scorers: 

Tries: Lindsay Peat, Claire Molloy, Ciara Griffin.

Conversions: Hannah Tyrrell [2 from 2]

Penalties: 

Italy scorers:

Tries: Melissa Bettoni

Conversions: Michela Sillari [1 from 1]

Penalties:

IRELAND: Lauren Delany [Larissa Muldoon '77]; Laura Sheehan, Enya Breen, Sene Naoupu [Katie Fitzhenry '72], Béibhinn Parsons; Hannah Tyrrell, Kathryn Dane [Ailsa Hughes '77], Lindsay Peat [Katie O'Dwyer '77], [Cliodhna Moloney '69] Neve Jones, Linda Djougang [Leah Lyons '69], Nichola Fryday [Brittany Hogan '63], Ciara Cooney; Dorothy Wall [Hannah O'Connor '71 HIA], Claire Molloy, Ciara Griffin    

ITALY:  Manuela Furlan [Sara Barattin '55]; Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi, Michela Sillari, Beatrice Rigoni, Aura Muzzo; Veronia Madia [Beatrice Capomaggi '69, replaced by Michela Merlo '73], Sofia Stefan; Silvia Turani, Melissa Bettoni [Giulia Cerato '56], Lucia Gai, Sara Tounesi [Valeria Fedrighi '58], Giordana Duca, Francesca Sgorbini, Giada Franco, Elisa Giordano

Referee: Hollie Davidson [Scotland]

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About the author:

Sinead Farrell  / Reports from Energia Park, Donnybrook

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