Italy 16 Ireland 26: Six Nations match report and betting pointers
More misery expected for Italy when Ireland visit Rome
Italy 16 T: Padovani, Morisi; P: Allan 2.
Ireland 26 T: Roux, Stockdale, Earls, Murray; C
Cons: Sexton, Murray 2
Italy +30 points, Ireland -29
It started well for Ireland as they generated quick ball and pushed the Italian defence back through phase after phase. They were rewarded with two tries but far from rolling over, Italy produced some ambitious rugby of their own and found space to attack out wide and hit back with two tries of their own to take a 16-12 lead.
Ireland started early with their substitutions but it seemed to interrupt their flow and they struggled for rhythm. A bonus-point try eventually arrived but the match ended with Italy on the front foot and they had the chance to snatch a losing bonus point but Ian McKinley's penalty attempt went wide.
What they said
Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony
We know how difficult it is to come to Rome. It's an incredibly physical battle and they are a super rugby team. They put us under the pump and we expected that.
"There is certainly stuff we can do better, and I know a lot is expected of us, but five points away from home is good because it is difficult to win on the road in the Six Nations.
"We needed a bit more accuracy in the second half and we were forcing a few things so we had to revert to our game plan and get through some phases. We need to improve on some of the good stuff and the things we need to get better at.''
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt
"The bottom line is you want the win and you want the bonus point, so we've got our five points and we'll go home happy with the points but certainly not the performance.
"You've got to be fair to Italy. They put a lot of pressure on. They made the ruck very tough and on the back of that, when the ball spilled loose or they got opportunities they broke very quickly and put us under pressure.
Having suffered a string of heavy defeats in last year's Six Nations and in the autumn, Italy have now stayed within the handicap in all three of their matches. They face England at Twickenham next up and are offered a 36-point start. Italy have stayed within that mark in seven of their last eight Twickenham appearances and it is encouraging to see them staying within handicaps by enterprising play rather than just by means of damage limitation.
Ireland face France at home next followed by a trip to Wales, and are yet to hit the heights of 2018. There was a lack of fluency to their play, and while there was some rotation in the pack, their backline was mostly intact and the line-out often went awry.
Italy: J Hayward (Benetton); E Padovani (Zebre), M Campagnaro (Wasps), L Morisi (Benetton), A Esposito (Benetton); T Allan (Benetton), T Tebaldi (Benetton); A Lovotti (Zebre), L Ghiraldini (Toulouse,), S Ferrari (Benetton), F Ruzza (Benetton), D Budd (Benetton), J Tuivaiti (Zebre), M Mbanda (Zebre), A Steyn (Benetton). Replacements: L Bigi (Benetton), C Traore (Benetton), T Pasquali (Benetton), D Sisi (Zebre), A Zanni (Benetton), G Palazzani (Zebre), I McKinley (Benetton), T Castello (Zebre).
Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); K Earls (Munster), C Farrell (Munster), B Aki (Connacht), J Stockdale (Ulster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); D Kilcoyne (Munster), S Cronin (Leinster), T Furlong (Leinster), U Dillane (Connacht), Q Roux (Connacht), P O'Mahony (Munster), S O'Brien (Leinster), J Murphy (Ulster). Replacements: N Scannell (Munster), J McGrath (Leinster), J Ryan (Munster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Van Der Flier (Leinster), J Cooney (Ulster), J Carty (Connacht), A Conway (Munster).
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