Six Nations: Ireland v Italy

Joe Schmidt's side are searching for a bonus point win against the Azzurri at the Aviva Stadium

Patrick Madden Sat, Feb 10
LIVE: Six Nations: Ireland v Italy

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  • Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of Ireland's Six Nations clash with Italy at the Aviva Stadium (2.15).

    One down, four to go. Joe Schmidt's side were on the brink in Paris last weekend, but the Grand Slam dream is alive again after one magical swing of Johnny Sexton's right boot.

    The Azzurri come to Dublin today on the back of an opening round 45-16 thrashing at the hands of England. Conor O'Shea's side were game in Rome but their tank emptied quite spectacularly as the defending champions ran in seven tries.

    With another incredibly tight Championship in the offing, the onus is on Ireland to emulate Eddie Jones's side and rack up the points at the Aviva.

    We'll be bringing you all of the action from Dublin, followed by England against Wales later on (4.45).

    Come on!!!

  • TEAMS:

    IRELAND: R Kearney; K Earls, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best (capt), T Furlong; I Henderson, D Toner; P O’Mahony, D Leavy, J Conan. Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy, A Porter, Q Roux, CJ Stander, K Marmion, J Carbery, J Larmour.

    Italy: Matteo Minozzi; Tommaso Benvenuti, Tommaso Boni, Tomasso Castello, Mattia Bellini; Tomasso Allan, Marcello Violi; Nicola Quaglio, Luca Bigi, Simone Ferrari; Alessandro Zanni, Dean Budd; Sebastian Negri, Braham Steyn, Sergio Parisse (captain). Replacements: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Andrea Lovotti, Tiziano Pasquali, Federico Ruzza, Maxime Mbanda, Edoardo Gori, Carlo Canna, Jayden Hayward.

  • Joe Schmidt has resisted making any wholesale changes for today's game, keeping the entire backline from Paris intact. That makes sense, given Ireland were largely blunt going forward at a rainy Stade de France. The fixtures have been relatively kind - next weekend is a rest weekend - so the visit of Italy presents a perfect opportunity to oil the machine.

    He has made four changes in the pack - the experienced Jack McGrath and Devin Toner return, while Dan Leavy and Jack Conan have big opportunities in the backrow.

  • John Rogers The glory of Sexton drop goal and the incredible team effort that lead to it masks a serious, persisting problem; our struggle to score tries in big matches. Our attack is predictable. Our pundits remain blind to this. We won't win WC under Schmidt.
  • You can read Gerry Thornley's match preview HERE.

    And he has spoken to Jack Conan, which you can read HERE. His match up with Sergio Parisse today should be fascinating - master and apprentice.

  • The pre-match talk on TV3 has centred around Ireland's lack of cutting edge in attack - and that is one of the reasons why there has been so much excitement around the inclusion of Jordan Larmour in today's squad.  

    Leinster's 20-year-old starlet could make his international debut off the bench this afternoon after roaring into the public consciousness with some stunning performances in the Christmas interpros.

  • And what about the Azzurri? At one stage in Rome last week they were a forward pass away from pegging England back to 17-20 - but they then capitulated and conceded four scores from the 53rd minute onwards.  

    Conor O'Shea's side moved the ball quite nicely in parts - however their set-piece was poor and at times non-existant. Ireland will surely look to copy the English blueprint this afternoon, dominating from set-pieces and then going for the throat late on.

  • "People say do you feel under pressure? Really? I’m going with Italy to the Aviva stadium in front of 50,000 in an international rugby game with a sport I love. Don’t take your life too seriously. There are more pressurised things in life."

    A nice quote from O'Shea.  

  • 15 mins until kick off!
  • Concentrating on points difference rather than just getting the game won feels like bad luck this afternoon - but Ireland need to score a hatful this afternoon.

    Their last two Championship wins in 2014 and 2015 have been on points difference, while they've scored nine tries in their last two wins over Italy. Patience and execution.

  • It's not raining in Dublin. . . *yet*.
  • The teams are out at the Aviva to plenty fo fanfare and empty seats - there is still 10 minutes of valuable drinking time before a ball is kicked, afterall.
  • The Italian anthem is always great fun.
  • Tomasso Allan has the ball in hand as the smoke clears...

    We're underway!!!

  • 1 min: Earls fields the kick and Ireland show good early intent, putting the ball through the hands before Henshaw makes a break out of the 22. Good early ball retention from the hosts, keeping the ball alive with O'Mahony making a break on the right.
  • 2 min: Ireland keep the ball alive for well over a minute before Stockdale opts to kick ahead down the left. Great early intensity.
  • 3 min: First Irish lineout on halfway and Best finds Conan before the maul is set. There's a slow march forward and then the ball is recycled to Sexotn who fizzes it to Aki who can't hold on.

    Italy look to use the loose ball moving it left, Ireland covering well. The Azzurri spin it back to the nearside and a poor pass from Boni evades Parisse and floats into touch.

  • 4 min: Tadhg Furlong's race is run already, he's limped off to be replaced by Andrew Porter. He's getting his knee iced on the bench so looks unlikely he'll return.
  • 5 min: Irish scrum on the left has to be reset a few times before they move it left, Sexton using his trademark wraparound but then another pass goes awry.  
  • 6 min: Good intent form both sides with the ball in hand but so far execution has been lacking. Italy have a lineout on the nearside but Bigi overcooks his throw and the hosts pounce on the loose ball at the back.
  • 8 min: Aki carves open Italy with a lovely show and go in midfield and he gets the ball free for an offload but there's no runner on his shoulder. Still, Irish penalty on the 10-metre - Sexton goes for the corner.
  • 9 min: Not the best kick from Sexton, it's short of the 22. They move it left and the ball goes loose but Henshaw picks it up, finding Stockdale on the wing who is held up just short. Good support from Sexton and the winger wriggles up to the line where Leavy can't quite burrow over. Five-metre scrum.
  • Patient from the hosts, they win the scrum and run a number of short phases. Stockdale nearly gets over, quick recycle from Murray and he finds Henshaw on a great inside line, and he crashes over the whitewash.

    Easy conversion for Sexton.


  • 13 min: Parisse covers a Sexotn chip well but then passes to nobody, earning Ireland 30-metres in midfield and the hosts look to work the short side.
  • Ireland don't have much space to work with on the left but they have enough. Stockdale plays a short ball to Conan, who steps inside creating the space for Murray and playing a cute pass back outside. Murray has acres of space in front of him and has the pace to score in the corner.

    Brilliant conversion from Sexton.  

    16 MIN: IRELAND 14 ITALY 0

  • 17 min: Great tackle from Earls on Boni on the left and he shunts the Italian centre into touch on halfway - ably assisted by Aki.
  • 18 min: Earls then involved again, this time wrapping around to join the line in midfield and finding a gap - only to be felled by a little ankle tap. Boni then shoots out of the line to try and intercept an Aki pass but he knocks it on.
  • 19 min: Great Irish scrum and pick from Murray, he finds Sexton who works the loop again and then stabs ahead for Stockdale, who puts the pressure on and forces an Irish lineout just outside the five.
  • TRY IRELAND!!!!!!!!
  • Lineout maul from Ireland and they edge towards the line. They peel off and Porter nearly wriggles over. Murray then picks it out and finds Aki on an unstoppable line and he thunders over to score.  

    Sexton then splits the posts again.

    22 MIN: IRELAND 21 ITALY 0

  • 23 min: Italy have been blown away in the last 15 minutes and they look to steady the ship with some possession in midfield. Henshaw rushes up to spoil the ball but there's a knock on and the Azzurri can have a quick breather.
  • 25 min: Good Italian scrum and a great pass from Allan in midfield allows Boni to make a good carry. But then there's a good tackle from O'Mahony and Henderson and Ferrari concedes a penalty for lifting the Munster backrows leg as he came in to support.
  • 27 min: Good set piece again and Sexton releases Henshaw, who runs another good line and is tackled under the sticks. Italy under huge pressure and they concede a penalty on the five. Best opts for the scrum.
  • 28 min: Conan picks but there's a miscommunication between him and Murray and he can't get the pass off. Not the best execution from Ireland but they have another penalty advantage after Parisse goes in off his feet. This time Sexton kicks into the corner.
  • 29 min: Poor execution again from Ireland but again they are relieved with another penalty advantage. Earls nearly rockets in under the posts and is tackled just short - his offload to Murray goes loose. Back for the penalty - Zanni infringement in the lineout.  
  • 30 MIN: IRELAND 21 ITALY 0
  • 31 min: Ireland with another lineout maul but they're trying to force it too much - eventually it comes to nothing as Sexton tries to stab a kick in behind for Earls but overcooks it. 22 dropout for the visitors. Criminal Ireland didn't emerge from that passage with a try or Italy a man light.
  • 32 min: Kearney returns a kick deep and looks to run it back but is well chopped down by Boni. There's a break in play - knock to the head for prop Quaglio.
  • 34 min: Irish scrum on the 10-metre, decent ball and ncie combination between Henshaw and Aki. Henshaw then passes slightly behind Stockdale who takes it well but just nibbles at the whitewash as he dances down the left.
  • TRY IRELAND!!!!!!!!
  • Ireland turn Italy over in midfield and capitalise brilliantly. Leavy does the work on the floor and finds Sexton, who moves it to Aki. Aki slows his run slightly then spies the gap, scything thorugh on the outside shoulder. Brilliant break, matched by the pass to Earls on the right and he cruises through to score.

    Sexton with another perfect conversion from wide right.

    37 MIN: IRELAND 28 ITALY 0

  • 38 min: That's the bonus point in the bag. Azzurri 15 Minozzi covers deep and is under pressure from Leavy but manages to dance his way to safety. Stockdale then gets isolated and concedes a penalty just outside the Irish 22 - Italian lineout and their best chance of the half.
  • 39 min: Poor lift and the Italian jumper knocks it on.
  • 40 min: Irish scrum just outside their own five. They get a penalty and Murray says that's enough.
  • The teams are back out for the second half...

    Johnny gets us back underway!!

  • 41 min: Cute, short restart from Sexton but Toner can't hold onto it and the visitors secure before clearing. Two changes for Ireland at half time - Stander and Roux on for Conan and Henderson.
  • 42 min: Surely an injury for Conan, who had an impressive first half. Italy earn a scrum penalty on halfway and Parisse taps quickly.
  • 43 min: Sexton with a lovely ball back inside - unfortunately it's Toner running onto it and he knocks forward in contact.
  • TRY IRELAND!!!!!
  • Henshaw intercepts Parisse on the Italian 10 and has the pace to touch down. But it seems to have come at a cost - looks like his shoulder popped out as he reached to score. He's in real trouble, and he's being taken off.

    Sexton converts.

    45 MIN: IRELAND 35 ITALY 0

  • 45 min: Henshaw heading off in a sling. Jordan Larmour is on for his international debut - although not in the circumstances everybody wanted.
  • 46 min: Lovely deep break from Murray and then Earls who is scragged with a high tackle on halfway. Sexton finds a good touch.
  • 47 min: Sexton looks for Kearney back inside and he would be through for the score - but referee Poites gets in the way. Ireland scrum.
  • John Rogers That's a horrible looking injury for Henshaw. I hope I'm wrong but that looks like a season ending injury.
  • 50 MIN: IRELAND 35 ITALY 0
  • 50 min: Larmour gets on the ball for the first time - he's on the right wing, with Earls moving into midfield. Another lengthy spell of Irish possession in the Italian 22 ends with a penalty to the home side. A double change, Carbery and Marmion on for Sexton and Murray.
  • 52 min: Italy pull down the Irish lineout maul and the hosts have another penalty - Poite will have to get a yellow card out soon. Back into the corner.
  • Sixth try for Ireland. Toner wins the lineout and Best then has a rumble, he's held up but then manages to worm his way over the line with help from Roux.

    Carberry converts.

    54 MIN: IRELAND 42 ITALY 0

  • 55 min: Ireland looking to play from deep, Larmour with a loose to Stander who shows great strength to stay in play. Carbery then throws a deep pass to Earls who again does well to get the ball away. Sloppy passage from the hosts.
  • TRY ITALY!!!!
  • Good play from Italy, they move it wide and Castello sees Leavy in the line and has the pace to beat him on the outside shoulder. He has Allan in suppport on his inside, and the outhalf has the pace and power to score.

    Allan then splits the posts.

    57 MIN: IRELAND 42 ITALY 7

  • 59 min: Ireland penalty and Carbery stitches a lovely kick into touch on the Italian five.
  • Patient from Ireland, they run a few phases from the lineout maul before Carbery drops it deeper to Stockdale on the wraparound and he sneaks over to score unchallenged.

    60 MIN: IRELAND 49 ITALY 7

  • 64 min: Minozzi solid under the high ball with Larmour steaming in. A rare sustained spell of Italian possession comes to an end as Aki intercepts on the right.
  • TRY ITALY!!!!
  • Schmidt won't be happy with that. Deep kick from Kearney and Minozzi covers. He counters and skins Larmour before finding Parisse on the outside. Italy's number eight then floats a pass back inside and Gori is there to collect it and score.

    Try converted.

    67 MIN: IRELAND 49 ITALY 14

  • 68 min: First glimpse of Sean Cronin's pace on the left, nice pass out of the back of the hand from Stockdale and he is just about hauled down as he looks to ferret away.
  • This is getting loose and ragged now - but Jacob Stockdale won't mind. Italy take a penalty quickly and he picks off a pass from Boni and is clear down the left. Hayward comes across to cover but the Ulster wing stands him up and skins him down the left. Brilliant finish.

    71 MIN: IRELAND 54 ITALY 14

  • 72 min: Wrap around from Marmion and his ball to Connacht teammate Aki goes forward. Solid Italian scrum and they have space right, Hayward taking contact when he probably should have looked wide. Stander goes in off his feet though and the Azzurri have a penalty advantage.
  • 74 min: Italy go into the corner and set the lineout maul.
  • TRY ITALY!!!!
  • Ireland counter the maul well but get men sucked in. Benvenuti throws an excellent wide ball and it's moved on to Minozzi, who has to check slightly but shows brilliant pace to scoot over in the corner. Larmour got caught a bit narrow there.

    Missed conversion.

    77 MIN: IRELAND 56 ITALY 19

  • 78 min: Space for Italy on the left but the ball's kicked out on the full.
  • 79 min: The first real flash of brilliance from Larmour, stepping out of nowhere to create the space and then beating another man before being tackled. And then Italy nearly score again - Carbery sees his pass picked off on the left by Bellini and he is through. It's a foot race, and Earls has the pace to get back and make the tackle on the Irish 22.
  • Job done for Ireland - although they weren't as clinical towards the end as they would have like. Championship hopes will also surely hinge on the severity of those injuries to Furlong and Henshaw, two of their gun players.
  • Right, thanks for joining - I'm off to cover Wales against England. Gerry Thornley's match report from Dublin will be along within the hour.