By Gary Watton
February 11 2017
Only four Irish players could manage to record a try, but they helped themselves to nine between them in a try-scoring banquet in Rome. Furthermore, Paddy Jackson underlined his credentials as a fine stand-in by slotting each and every one of the nine conversion attempts, some of them from awkward angles. In the event, a rampant Ireland went some way towards atoning for their major setback in Edinburgh. They also made headlines for the right reasons by becoming the first team to achieve a bonus point in the Six Nations on account of amassing at least four tries, although there really ought to be another bonus point on offer for accumulating eight tries.
In truth, this walkover against a poor Italy, the tournament's punchbag, was the rugby equivalent of winning a darts match against a blind man. Therefore, the standing ovation should be a brief one. A greater barometer of Ireland's progress or otherwise will come in the guise of the next three demanding fixtures against an improving France, away to a dangerous Wales, and then at home to an invincible England. The Oirish need two wins from these three encounters to persuade us that they are still heading in the right direction. Otherwise, the rout of Italy will seem like an oasis of success in a desert of setbacks.
Italy 10 IRELAND 63; in Rome; Saturday the 11th of February 2017.
14 Earls [two TRIES]
13 Ringrose [TRY]
10 Jackson [nine conversions]
8 Heaslip (captain)
6 Stander [three TRIES]
Used replacements: Gilroy [three TRIES], McGrath, Ryan.J, Dillane, Tracy, Marmion, Van der Flier, Keatley