Ireland scored six tries in a 48-10 bonus points win over Italy on Saturday to claim their first win at the Six Nations this year and condemned the hosts for their 30th straight loss at the tournament.
Efforts from Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan and Will Connors gave the visitors a seemingly irrefutable 24-point lead at half-time, but Italy hit back just before the break when Johan Meyer landed in a corner.
CJ Stander scrambled to secure bonus points for Ireland and Connors added further scoring while Italy had two men here, before substitute Keith Earls made Ireland’s sixth attempt after the final move of the game in Rome.
“It’s always a difficult place to go to and they are a well-trained team,” Ireland captain Johnny Sexton told ITV.
“We need to maintain our form like that against two very good teams. This group is on a journey together and we wanted to perform like that before.”
Ireland move above Scotland and England in the table to third place with seven points, although both teams have a game in hand. Italy remains at the bottom of the standings without a single point.
Ireland travel to the Italian capital with a point to prove after losing their opening two matches to Wales and France.
Andy Farrell’s men have amassed only two attempts in that match, but they are making light of the Italian side who will reach the sixth anniversary of their last Six Nations victory on Sunday.
With Sexton pulling the strings after returning to the side after a head injury, Ireland took control of the match in a blistering opening half hour.
Ringrose broke through the Italian defense to score the game’s first try before turning creators for the second, neatly releasing it to full-back Keenan, who ran over the line.
Another clever release, this time from winger Jordan Larmour, sent Connors in the corner for Ireland’s third goal, before Meyer rekindled Italian hopes with a last-minute first-half attempt.
Ireland’s 27-point tally is the highest in the first half of a trial match since February 2018 – also against Italy – and they didn’t give up after the break.
Stander dug deeper two minutes after the restart to restore a handsome lead, and the hosts’ task became even more challenging when buffers Giosue Zilocchi and Luca Bigi were sent to Sin bin within six minutes of leaving the team. Azzurri with 13 men.
Ireland took full advantage when Connors threw himself through and Sexton’s superb low pass sent Earls into a corner in the dying seconds.
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