Michael Lowry and James Lowe score braces in 57-6 Six Nations victory
Ireland thump 13-man Italy
On the face of it a 57-6 thumping of Italy in Dublin is a big result for Ireland, but that will not be the biggest takeaway from this Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium. Instead it is the laws of the game that have been brought into focus following the knock-on effects of an early red card.
The match was pretty much over as a contest when Epalahame Faiva was sent off in the 19th minute and Italy were subsequently reduced to 13 men for an hour due to the law around uncontested scrums following foul play (they had also lost starting hooker Gianmarco Lucceshi to injury inside ten minutes).
Yet Italy proved stubborn and defiant despite the disadvantage – they actually ended the match with only 12 players on the field – and Ireland may well rue not being able to notch an even bigger winning margin depending how the final rounds of the championship play out.
If France’s Grand Slam bid comes unstuck against Wales and/or England in the next two rounds, points difference will become important in the title race. Three late tries inflated the scoreline but it wasn’t as clinical a performance as may have been expected given the fact they outnumbered their opponents for so long.
Even head coach Andy Farrell described his side as “sloppy” at times while hailing how “brave” Italy were.
Ireland had the bonus point wrapped up by half-time as they followed Joey Carbery’s fourth-minute try with three tries in the second quarter.
The hosts’ second try came from Jamison Gibson-Park as he took advantage of the space in the backfield following a scrum (Italy had to commit eight players to the set-piece, leaving only five in the back-line). Then Michael Lowry, the Ulster full-back making his Ireland debut, marked his first cap with a try.
Peter O’Mahony, the Munster flanker named as captain for this fixture, got the all-important fourth try just before half-time – and the points kept coming after the break, although not as quickly as Ireland may have liked.
It was in the 52nd minute that James Lowe was put away for a try with a brilliant pass from Gibson-Park.
Then Lowry went over for his second following a trademark loop move from Johnny Sexton, who had arrived as a replacement for Carbery and offloaded to release the full-back.
Then came three tries in the last ten minutes. Ryan Baird created and scored Ireland’s seventh try, charging down an Italy box kick and having the pace to touch the ball down.
As if things weren’t bad enough for Italy, they were reduced to 12 players for the final five minutes. Abraham Steyn was sin-binned for slapping the ball into touch as Mack Hansen looked to pass the ball back inside five metres from the line.
Lowe crossed for his second shortly afterwards as Ireland moved the ball to the space out wide and Lowry provided the scoring pass – doing himself out of a hat-trick in the process. Kieran Treadwell then wrapped up the scoring with a try with the clock in the red from close range.
Ireland will head to Twickenham full of confidence and eager to keep the pressure on France while Italy will be hoping they can keep 15 players on the pitch when they take on Scotland in round four.
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