Both teams came into this match looking for their first win of the tournament. How did the game pan out?
Ireland answered their critics and ran nine tries past a poor and injury-hit Italy side to notch up their first win of this RBS 6 Nations in comprehensive style.
It took just six minutes for Andrew Trimble to open the scoring with the first try of the day and the last came in the final two minutes of this one-sided match as Italy proved unable to live with the pace and persistence of Ireland.
In between, Jamie Heaslip grabbed two tries and among the other try-scorers was replacement hooker Sean Cronin, who came on to win his 50th cap and celebrated by crossing the line just four minutes later.
It was a grim afternoon for Italy. They scored two tries in the second half but that was scant consolation and their coach Jacques Brunel said after the game: “In the first three matches there has been some positives but there weren’t any today.”
Ireland’s patience – A good number of Ireland’s nine tries came from long build-ups through a dozen phases or more. They wore the Italy defence down then capitalised in a ruthless fashion by cutting them to shreds.
Set pieces – Ireland won 100% of their lineouts and scrums, giving themselves a great platform to work from. As skipper Rory Best said after the game: “It’s been a big rock for us over the years, our set pieces, so it’s nice to get that back.”
The Italy fans – Despite seeing their team well beaten, the travelling fans still made themselves heard, singing their hearts out during the match and after the final whistle.
Italy, in general – Just a few weeks ago Italy came so very close to their first win in Paris, but they looked a shadow of that side today as they buckled under the physical pressure Ireland put on them from the outset. As the Italy skipper Sergio Parisse said after the game: “It was very bad and it was everybody’s fault.”
The Italy lineout – Italy lost three lineouts on their own throw and didn’t manage to pinch any from Ireland, with Devin Toner ruling the roost by taking seven lineouts. The Italians were unlucky in that they lost both starting locks to injury in the first half but they still need to do better.
58 – Ireland had 58% of the possession during this one-sided encounter but it felt like much more. The home side also had 56% of territory.
613 – Ireland made good use of all that ball and made 613 metres in attack. Robbie Henshaw was top of the list with 72, while Simon Zebo made 67 and Andrew Trimble 66.
3 – Fergus McFadden was something of a super-sub, coming off the bench three times in this one game! He finally left an indellible mark on the match with a try in the 78th minute.
22 – Italy blindside Francesco Minto was the top tackler in the match with 22.
Ireland: S Zebo; A Trimble (F McFadden 20-28), J Payne (F McFadden 71), R Henshaw (F McFadden 36-40), K Earls: J Sexton (I Madigan 49), C Murray (K Marmion 59); J McGrath (F Bealham 65), R Best (capt, S Cronin 49), M Ross (N White 54), D Ryan, D Toner (U Dillane 54), CJ Stander (R Ruddock 61), J van der Flier, J Heaslip.
Tries: Andrew Trimble, Jack McGrath, CJ Stander, Jamie Heaslip 2, Jared Payne, Sean Cronin, Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden. Cons: Johnny Sexton 3, Ian Madigan 2. Pen: Sexton
Italy: D Odiete; L Sarto, M Campagnaro, G Garcia (K Haimona 54), M Bellini; E Padovani (L McLean 59), G Palazzani (A Lucchese 61); A Lovotti (M Zanusso 71), D Giazzon (A Fabiani 54), D Chistolini (P Ceccarelli 54), G Biagi (B Steyn 35), M Fuser (Q Geldenhuys 26), F Minto, A Zanni, S Parisse (capt).
Tries: David Odiete, Leonardo Sarto. Con: Kelly Haimona. Pen: Edoardo Padovani
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Man of the Match: Donnacha Ryan (Ireland)
For the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here