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.
Josh Curran of the Warriors scores a try during the NRL trial match against the Titans. Photos / Photosport
It’s best to always be vigilant about the pre-season NRL trials. Coaches and teams always have specific agendas to work with – rather than just grinding results – and it’s advisable not to get carried away about performance, good or bad.
That’s what happened to the Warriors in the past. The excitement following a 48-4 trial win over the Broncos in 2013 was quickly lost when they lost five of their first seven games and there are several other related examples.
But Saturday’s game against The Titans, which ended in a 12-12 draw, was important. It was the first course for Nathan Brown and the seventh new signing, after significant personnel changes in the low season.
It is also their only preseason chance, after last week’s trial against Storm was canceled due to travel restrictions.
Neither team wants to reveal too much – especially when they face each other in the first round of the NRL season – but it’s time for the latest issue of the Warriors to show something up and it’s quite promising.
They showed good speed and energy and had some bright moments in attack, while their defense improved as the match went on, with some great grabs in the second half.
Both squads have been rusty at times, with the Warriors also losing half-organization Chanel Harris-Tavita, out with a quad injury, and hampered by the loss of bitch Wayde Egan, who left with a shoulder injury after just 15 minutes.
Addin Fonua-Blake’s gigantic brace provides good muscle up front, giving an idea of his ability to cross the line of advantage while Ben Murdoch-Masila creates a 40 meter high statue with his first touch after halftime, and the one-two hit by the twin towers could be something to enjoy, if they can also bring discipline in defense.
Perhaps the new player chosen was the former Dragons midfielder, Euan Aitken, who took some powerful punches and displayed a willingness to get involved, as well as the defensive initiative.
Bunty Afoa and Leeson Ah Mau are again welcomed, having barely been seen in 2020 due to injuries. Second rower Bayley Sironen demonstrated his versatility, turning to prostitutes in the second half.
The Titans got their best of the opening quarter, with two attempts in four minutes, to Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Jarrod Wallace. When he played for Queensland and Storm last season, strong Fa’asuamaleaui was tough to deal with through midfield.
Sean O’Sullivan and Nikorima teamed up well to send Josh Curran across in the 29th minute and the Warriors should have extended their lead before halftime, unable to capitalize on four straight sets on the Titans line.
The Warriors were sharper after halftime and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s sharp break sent Jazz Tevaga under the post just before the hour mark.
That shows what is possible when Tuivasa-Sheck gets the ball up front, which is the hope for 2021.
Brown vacated the bench for the last 20 minutes, with several young players gaining playing time. A formidable defensive play from Map Hiku stopped certain attempts from former teammate Patrick Herbert, while the Warriors did very well to withstand the continuing pressure in the final 10 minutes.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland would be in isolation for seven days starting Sunday after a new local case of the coronavirus, of unknown origin, emerged; America’s Cup organizers will now review plans for a head-to-head final between Italy and New Zealand
Last Updated: 27/02/21 11:17
America’s Cup organizers are reviewing plans for a head-to-head final between Italy and New Zealand following the latest COVID-19 lockdown in Auckland.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the country’s largest city would be under lockdown for seven days starting Sunday after a new local case of the coronavirus, of unknown origin, emerged, meaning America’s Cup Village would also be closed.
The opening race for the best-of-13 series between Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and American Cup holders Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) will be held in waters off the coast of Auckland on March 6.
“The American Cup is reviewing the situation and will work closely with the Authorities and relevant bodies over the next few days to address the implications,” organizers said in a statement on Saturday.
This month’s Challenger Series finals were suspended after a two-day race when Auckland went into a three-day lockdown.
Luna Rossa, who was leading 4-0 over INEOS Team UK at the time, opposed to postponing racing until the city’s restrictions were lifted.
Racing resumed later that week and the Italian team completed a 6-1 win to lift the Prada Cup and booked a fight with ETNZ in their quest to win the oldest trophy in international sport, which began in 1851.
Ireland will seek to end a two-game losing streak when they face Italy on Saturday (kick-off 14.15 GMT); The Azzurri will be hoping to build on their competitive display in the defeat to England
Last Updated: 27/02/21 8:40 am
Ireland face Italy on Saturday trying to recover from their worst start to the Six Nations campaign.
Andy Farrell’s side have suffered losing streaks to Wales and France, while the hosts are also looking for their first win of the tournament.
Here, we look at some of the main talking points ahead of the game in Rome.
A game that must be won
Ireland’s third-place Six Nations 2020 is considered an “average return” by the Irish Football Union’s Rugby Football Association performance director David Nucifora. Consecutive defeats meant that replicating those moderate achievements was a difficult task.
Ireland are scintillating favorites to win at the Stadio Olimpico and only a convincing win coupled with an accomplished display will likely prevent further scrutiny of progress under Farrell. The head coach has repeatedly expressed satisfaction with what he sees on camera and insists that the pressure makes him “feel alive.” Given the recent results and the level of opposition, first away success from his short term is a must.
This is Johnny
The debate over whether veteran captain Johnny Sexton will be available for the next World Cup is almost certain to continue in the foreseeable future. The 35-year-old said this week that he “might not” be there for the 2023 tournament but later clarified that it was a “throwaway comment” and stressed that he will assess his future year after year.
With fly-half deputies Billy Burns and Ross Byrne unsure each of them will be a long-term successor and Joey Carbery seeking to return from injury, there is little doubt Sexton will remain at the helm of his country’s number 10 for now. He will return from a head injury to win his 97th cap this weekend and will have to prove a steady influence after several difficult weeks.
After a narrow 15-13 defeat to Les Bleus, Farrel spoke of the need for a more creative spark from his back. Ireland have scored two low-key attempts of the tournament to date and both have come from the front – Tadhg Beirne and Ronan Kelleher.
Failure to break stubborn defenses is a common concern. With the backs of Sexton and Jordan Larmour giving up his first starts on the wing since before the 2019 World Cup, Farrell has appointed a back line made up entirely of Leinster players. He will hope that intimacy can lead to a greater spearhead, while facing the weakest side of the competition should provide the perfect stage to escape.
Shuffle the package
While Farrel demands greater ingenuity from his more technically gifted players, his raft of changes takes place mostly between the pack, including a complete front-line overhaul. Only key Iain Henderson and number eight CJ Stander defended their positions from the French game.
Tadhg Furlong’s tight head brace started for his country for the first time in more than a year, with Kelleher getting his chance as a prostitute after a cameo trying to score against France, and Dave Kilcoyne making a rare start to off.
Vice-captain James Ryan returned from a head injury to strengthen the second row, pushing Beirne back into the blind flanker, while Will Connors came in on the open flank.
Italy’s Six Nations losing streak – which lasted six years – is in danger of being extended to 30 games this weekend. The Azzurri head coach, Franco Smith, called a team unchanged after competing fiercely in the defeat to reigning champions England last time, but their poor run still ruined the championship.
While there have been calls for the introduction of promotion and relegation into the tournament via play-off play, Farrell feels Italy deserves to retain their place, demonstrating the progress made under South Africa’s Smith. There are many who disagree.
Italy: 15 Jacopo Trulla, 14 Luca Sperandio, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Carlo Canna, 11 Montanna Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 1 Andrea Lovotti, 2 Luca Bigi (c), 3 Marco Riccioni, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 David Sisi, 6 Sebastian Negri, 7 Johan Meyer, 8 Michele Lamaro
Ireland are refreshing their pack for Saturday’s Six Nations trip to Italy and welcoming back Johnny Sexton after the captain missed a defeat to leaders France at the start of the tournament.
Irish boss Andy Farrell has made seven changes from his disappointing start to the tournament. Ronan Kelleher, who scored one of only two Irish attempts in their two opening defeats, started as a whore alongside Munster’s Tadhg Furlong and David Kilcoyne. Flanker Will Connors got his first start of the year after several impressive cameos.
Sexton and second-line James Ryan have both recovered from concussions and along with winger Jordan Larmour was another change to the side that was beaten by France for much of the game as coach Andy Farrell rejected calls for the blood of some of the younger players.
Munster’s 21-year-old scrum-half, Craig Casey, was an unused substitute against France, but won his first cap off the bench in Rome. Leinster’s key, Ryan Baird, is also gearing up to debut after being named in the matchday squad for the first time.
Ireland lost 21-16 to Wales in their opener and 15-13 to France.
Hugo Keenan, Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe, Jonathan Sexton (C), Jamison Gibson Park, David Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Will Connors, CJ Stander.
Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Craig Casey, Billy Burns, Keith Earls.