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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 21 May, 2019
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‘… baaaaaaay-be don’t ya wanna go. Back home to that same ol’ plaaaace. SWEET HOME CHICAG…’  oh, good evening. Didn’t see you all standing there.

I was just re-watching a Blues Brothers and New Zealand V Ireland 2016 as a double feature to get me in the mood for tonight’s November Test.

Joe Schmidt has his team – minus some of the most recognisable faces – back in Soldier Field to open the new international season. Meeting us there are Conor O’Shea’s Azzurri and they will be just as keen to show some positives from new combinations as they keep one eye on a massive Test against Georgia next weekend.

Now, if you don’t mind… I’ve a song to finish before kick-off (8pm Irish time, eir Sport 2).

Alright then so, I’m putting the hairbrush down. Here are the line-ups.

First starts for Tadhg Beirne and Jordan Larmour, while Will Addison and Ross Byrne will almost certainly have international caps to bring back through customs.

Ireland:  

15. Jordan Larmour
14. Andrew Conway
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Joey Carbery
9. Luke McGrath

1. Jack McGrath
2. Niall Scannell
3. Andrew Porter
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. Quinn Roux
6. Rhys Ruddock (captain)
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan

Replacements:

16. Sean Cronin
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Devin Toner
20. Jordi Murphy
21. John Cooney
22. Ross Byrne
23. Will Addison

Italy:

15. Luca Sperandio
14. Mattia Bellini 
13. Michele Campagnaro (captain)
12. Luca Morisi
11. Giulio Bisegni
10. Carlo Canna 
9. Tito Tebaldi 

1. Nicola Quaglio
2. Luca Bigi
3. Tiziano Pasquali
4. Marco Fuser 
5. George Fabio Biagi
6. Johan Meyer
7. Abraham Steyn
8. Renato Giammarioli 

Replacements:

16. Oliviero Fabiani
17. Cherif Traore
18. Giosue Zilocchi 
19. Marco Lazzaroni
20. Federico Ruzza
21. Jimmy Tuivaiti
22. Guglielmo Palazzani
23. Ian McKinley

Referee: Nigel Owens [WRU]. 

Not a whole lot of extra seats have been filled since then, but the teams are coming out into the echo chamber. 

Get ready for some quality Italian-anthem action.

The anthems are done, Ireland’s Call a massive improvement on what we were subjected to two years ago, and Nigel Owens will get us under way.

KICK-OFF:

Big Jake Stockdale takes the kick-off and breaks contact on his 22 and motors on up the left. 

Ireland go side to side and back to Stockdale some phases later, he makes yards again and Ireland are trundling their way toward the Blue 22.

CHANCE!  Garry Ringrose breaks the line and goes very, very close to crossing into the endzone, but he’s caught and just can’t keep control of the ball as he reaches out of the spin attempting to dot down. 

Ireland go to the corner off a penalty, Scannell hit Beirne on the line-out and after JVDF and Conan hit up, the Kildare man made the crucial burst over the line.

Carbery adds the extras. 

Ireland 7 Italy 0

Italy look relieved just to hold onto possession after that ultra-effective early carve-up from Ireland.

The Azzurri’s spell with the ball ends with a knock-on at Ireland’s 10 metre line. The defence looks relatively comfortable.

10 mins: Italy certainly look sharper than they did in the opening stages. Ireland rolling through phases and probing, but struggling to find the line-breaks.

12 mins: If you need line-breaks, then Joey Carbery and Jordan Larmour are the men to call. 

Leinster fullback’s past and present side-step through a gap apiece on the right flank and get Ireland going very close to a second try.

Steyn and Meyer do well to make a mess of the ruck and the clear-outs don’t come quick enough to keep the tempo in the move.

A touch of impatience shown from Joey Carbery as Ireland’s attack in Italy’s third comes to an end. After Luke McGrath had a cut at the line and forwards crashed up, the 10 flung a speculative skip pass left and was picked off.

Approaching the 20-minute mark and Ireland will probably be disappointed not to have created a second score.

23 mins: Good intensity in defence from Ireland on that set and they force the error, inviting Quinn Roux to break and kick clear… ah no. The Quinn-kick-chase dream is over as Owens calls playback for an Ireland knock-on.

Ireland have well and truly taken their foot off the throat and given Italy a helpful hand back into this game. The Azzurri have strung together a great set of phases, with some tasty offloads thrown in for good measure.

Ireland backed up onto their 5m line and struggling to stop that yardage.

28 mins: Steyn has a lunge at planting the ball against the foot of the post. Owens isn’t consulting the TMO, but it looks quite close.

Rhys Ruddock did well to get a limb in the way.

The call is a knock-on by Steyn. Ireland scrum in front of their posts and play their way right before Luke McGrath clears with a box-kick.

The 9 gets good distance on his clearance and Italy will have the line-out on the 10 metre line.

This game was veering dangerously close to descending into dire territory, but Jordan Larmour cuts back against the grain in a messy phase of play and darts through the gap.

Luke McGrath, typically enough, is already beyond the front line of defenders and his trail-line is perfect to take the fullback’s pass and run clear for the try-line.

Carbery on the money off the tee again.

Ireland 14 Italy 0

Flag

A sloppy end to a scrappy half as Ireland try to get a little too intricate on the edge of their 22. Rhys Ruddock tries to switch back a pass to put Jordan Larmour through the break.

But Michele Campagnaro reads it like an Ann and Barry and adds an intercept to his game stats.

HALF-TIME: Ireland 14 Italy 7

Let’s all remember the first time Ireland played in Soldier Field instead, shall we?

41 mins: Now, put down that half-time herbal tea – too late for the strong schtuff - because they’re back up and running at Soldier Field.

Sean Cronin is first off the bcnch. An impact replacement if ever there was one, his power in contact will be a welcome addition. 

Flag

Ireland have started the second half, much as they began the first. Full of purpose and power on the carry… and there’s a Tadhg Beirne try just to underline my point.

TRY!  Ireland 17 Italy 7 (Beirne ’43)

Rhys Ruddock grabbed an intercept back to cancel out his error to set Ireland on the attack. Aki took Ireland within five and the blue line didn’t reset in time to stop Beirne crashing over off a whopped McGrath pass.

Carbery keeps his perfect record of conversions.

Ireland 21 Italy7

And no sooner had I finished describing the first try of the second half, Jordan Larmour runs in the second.

Campagnaro’s wild pass is made all the wilder by a deflection and it sails right into the grateful arms of Jordan Larmour who hares away from his own half to score his first international try.

Ireland 28 Italy 7

52 mins: Ooof! Joey Carbery given a right rattling by blindside Johan Meyer there. The back row cemented the Athy man in the side of the hip.

Just a touch late, nothing wrong with the angle or technique.

Joey’s made of hard Munster stuff these days, though. He’s up and kicks the ball to the  corner.

This Italy side are a beaten docket now and Ireland’s maul is too strong to withstand. Roux takes the line-out from Cronin and the hooker gets on the back of the maul to finish off the score.

Carbery kicks his fifth, and most difficult, conversion of the day to take Ireland up to 35.

Ireland 35 Italy 7

60 mins: Here come the new caps!

Ross Byrne is in at 10 to replace Carbery and Will Addison is in the game at fullback with Jordan Larmour making way.

The replacement forwards have also been delved through: Bealham, Killer and Big Dev Toner are lending their weight to the final quarter.

Hold on, scratch that replacement call because Jordan Larmour and Addison are both definitely on the field.

TRY! Ireland 42 Italy (Larmour ’63)

Larmour sprinkles a little magic on this Test again, dancing through contact out on the left wing after being set on the run by Garry Ringrose’s pass.

TRY! Ireland 49 Italy 7 (Ringrose  ’65)

Garry Ringrose, an uncapped and unused replacement here two years ago, gets over for his try after Bundee Aki makes the big break on the right before unleashing his centre partner.

Ross Byrne is striking the ball beautifully off the tee and maintaining Ireland’s progression up the scoreboard in seven-point multiples.

Ian McKinley is in the game for Italy against his native Ireland. A superb landmark to see for the former Leinster prospect whose career path was so cruelly set on a detour by a freak accident.

Great image of The Ringer running in Ireland’s seventh try.

Garry Ringrose scores Ireland's seventh try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Flag

Oh good lord. The game was petering to a close, the hooter had gone, but Jordan Larmour sniffed a gap and a hat-trick and pulled another bit of stardust out of the bag.

The 21-year-old first danced past some tired lumbering forwards in midfield, but his step to beat Tito Tepaldi on the short-side was nothing short of outrageous. From there, there was never a smidge of doubt that he would find a way evade last man Guglielmo Palazzani and sure enough, he lured the replacement into an early tackle and cut inside to finish.

A brilliant way to end what was otherwise a pretty forgettable match.

FULL-TIME: Ireland 54 Italy 7

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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