Ireland finally got their Six Nations campaign up and running with a 10 – 48 win against an underperforming Italian side in Rome.
Despite opening up with some exciting plays in the first half, which yielded scores from Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan and Will Connors, Ireland reverted to type in a poor second half. Their grinding forwards game did eek out another three tries against a poor Italian side but, as we have seen, it wont get them far against quality opposition.
Italy (10) 10
TRY: Johan Meyer
CON: Paolo Garbisi
PEN: Paolo Garbisi
Ireland (27) 48
TRY: Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan, Will Connors (2), CJ Stander, Keith Earls.
CON: Johnny Sexton (6)
PEN: Johnny Sexton
I had hoped for a bit more resistance from Italy who had shown some signs of improvement this season but the home side were disappointing. Their defence has been a constant problem but they had shown some confidence in attack but they struggled in all aspects in this game.
Ireland made some effort to open up but it was more down to individuals than a concerted team effort. Ringrose shows a lot more in attack when he has like minded players to play off and Keenan and Jordan Larmour are two such players. The trio had a hand in all that was good about Ireland in the first half.
Italy opened the scoring with a 3rd minute penalty from Paulo Garbisi but Ireland were soon racking up the points as Johnny Sexton replied minutes later before Ringrose sliced through the defence form close range after an earlier try from Iain Henderson was disallowed. Sexton added the extras and Ireland were taking control with the score at 3 – 10 after 11 minutes.
The Italian defence was racking up penalties and it kept Ireland on the front foot with Sexton landing his second penalty on the 17th minute and on the 32nd minute Sexton and Ringrose combined to send Keenan clear for their second try, after good work from Larmour, taking the score to 3 – 20 after Sexton landed the conversion.
Larmour and Sexton combined to send Connors over for his first score 5 minutes later and with Sexton converting Ireland looked well set with a 3 – 27 lead. However Ilay finally found some go forward in attack and a well worked try saw Johan Meyer crash over after good work by Garbisi. The Italian outhalf stepped up to convert taking the score to 10 – 27 at the break.
I don’t know if that late Italian try had put some fear into, the increasingly isolated looking, Andy Farrell but it was a much changed attitude from Ireland in the second half. Larmout was subbed for Keith Earls at the break and Ireland seemed determined to play through their forwards for the bulk of the second half.
It was dire stuff, but effective, against a tiring Italy. However, it more than likely had the casual supporter reaching for their remote control well ahead of the final whistle. CJ Stander and Connors both crossed off mauls to wrap up the bonus point, and game, before Ireland’s only successful backline move of the second half, a one play pass from Sexton to Earls, ended the game. Sexton finished the match with 100% from the boot, landing all three second half conversions to take the final score to Italy 10 Ireland 48.
ITALY: Jacopo Trulla, Luca Sperandio, Juan Ignacio Brex, Carlo Canna, Montanna Ioane, Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney, Michele Lamaro, Johan Meyer, Sebastian Negri, David Sisi, Marco Lazzaroni, Marco Riccioni, Luca Bigi (C), Andrea Lovotti. Replacements: Gianmarco Lucchesi, Cherif Traore, Giosuè Zilocchi, Niccolò Cannone, Maxime Mbanda, Callum Braley, Federico Mori, Mattia Bellini
IRELAND: Hugo Keenan, Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe, Jonathan Sexton (C), Jamison Gibson Park, Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Will Connors, CJ Stander. Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Craig Casey, Billy Burns, Keith Earls.
We’ve been monitoring some of the stats in the previous games.
For comparison this was the highest match penalty count, to date, with 28 penalties awarded, up 100% from the last game. Ireland’s individual penalty count went up from 5 against France to 10 in this game with Italy conceding 18. Passing/handling errors did go down from the last game high of 46 to 37 which saw the ball was in play for a total of 38 minutes compared to 36 minutes in the previous game. Ireland again completed the most rucks, setting up a total of 110 to Italy’s 89 giving a total of 193 which is up from the total of 181 for the French game.
Despite an all season high of 4 offloads, compared to 3 in previous games, Ireland still have a bit of work to do!