This victory was just the tonic Ireland needed after failing to get off the bus against Scotland in the opening round of the Six Nations. But what a poison pill this will be for Italy after conceding nine tries to a rampant Ireland.
We’ve seen Ireland claim the first-ever try bonus in the Six Nations, courtesy of Man of the Match CJ Stander getting three dots to add to Keith Earls’s opener, while substitute Craig Gilroy also nabbed a quick-fire hat-trick himself, in the second half. You name the area, Ireland had dominance and now they head into the fallow week with more spring in their step.
Maybe they will have wanted a sterner Test, but Italy boss Conor O’Shea will be glad to have a bit of extra time to consider what he has to do to pump up his teams confidence and competitive levels. This is a result that ran away from them, sticking its tongue out as it headed into the distance.
It’s a bonus – CJ Stander will be the answer to a pub quiz question for the rest of his life after he scored to give his team the first-ever bonus point for scoring four tries in the Six Nations. And Ireland did it with relative ease in the first half. There game was one of pure control. With CJ Stander leading a rampant back-row (with Robbie Henshaw an unofficial member) they had front-foot ball all day long.
Paddy Jackson – So much has been made of the fact Johnny Sexton – “When will he be back? Is he fit? Are they lost without him?” – but Jackson was controlled and firm. He barked orders all game and was immaculate from the tee. A day he’ll remember for a long time.
Irish defence – O’Brien created Gilroy’s try from a dislodged ball as a lovely metaphor of Ireland’s defensive day. For all they were poor at against Scotland – and they were as narrower that an earthworm’s waist at Murrayfield – they were incredibly mean against their hosts. Andy Farrell will be much happier.
Déjà Vu – Italy need discipline and a good set-piece, we can all agree? Well Ireland’s first try came after the play got stuck on a loop. Ireland dominated the scrum, got advantage straight away, as they hit it up. By the third time this happened, Earls had a simple run-in to score.
Awful clearances – Italy, when getting rid of the ball like it was about to explode. And when they did send it, it invariably found one of Ireland’s hungry back three. They needed to find grass or touch, but they instead invited pressure.
9 – Successive defeats for Italy in the Six Nations.
2 – Number of hat-tricks in this game.
37 – Number of defenders Italy beat.
18 – The number of years since an Ireland forward last scored a hat-trick – Keith Wood in 1999.
Italy: Padovani; Esposito, Benvenuti (Campagnaro 47), McLean, Venditti; Canna (Allan 71), Gori (Bronzini 60); Lovotti (Panico 64), Ghiraldini (Gega 47), Cittadini (Chistolini 40), Fuser, van Schalkwyk (Biagi 47), Mbanda, Favaro (Steyne 56), Parisse.
Tries: Penalty. Con: Canna. Pen: Canna.
Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Ringrose, Henshaw (Gilroy 47), Zebo (Keatley 75); Jackson, Murray (Marmion 70); Healy (McGrath 50), Scannell (Tracy 62), Furlong (J. Ryan 53), D. Ryan, Toner (Dillane 60), Stander, O’Brien (van der Flier 70), Heaslip.
Tries: Earls 2, Stander 3, Gilroy 3, Ringrose. Con: Jackson 9.
Yellow card: D. Ryan.