Six Nations: Ireland beat Italy 63 – 10


Hat-tricks from CJ Stander and Craig Gilroy helped Ireland regroup from their Scotland defeat to earn a nine-try Six Nations win over Italy in Rome.

Scrum domination helped the Irish take immediate control with the bonus point secured by the 35th minute as Stander and Keith Earls both notched two tries.

Italy scored a first-half penalty try but for the most part were outclassed.

After Stander completed his hat-trick on 46, replacement Gilroy repeated the feat with Garry Ringrose also scoring.

South African-born Stander’s third try meant he became the first Ireland player to score a Six Nations hat-trick since Brian O’Driscoll achieved the feat against Scotland in 2002.

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Ulster wing Gilroy then got in on the hat-trick act as he notched his three scores in an 11-minute period in the closing stages at the Stadio Olimpico.

Ireland’s victory was their biggest ever Six Nations win as the margin exceeded the 60-13 win over the Azzurri in 2000.

Joe Schmidt’s side achieved the victory despite being without skipper Rory Best who had to be replaced by debutant Niall Scannell because of a stomach upset.

Keith Earls runs in his first try as Rob Kearney shows his delight
Keith Earls became only the third Ireland player to score tries in four successive internationals

Fast Ireland start puts game out of Italy reach

Conor O’Shea’s Italy side contained Wales for over an hour in Rome last weekend before eventually succumbing 33-7 as Ireland’s dreadful start at Murrayfield contributed massively to their defeat by the Scots.

However, it was a very different story a week on as Ireland came out fired up and the Italians had no answer.

A huge early shove by Cian Healy to force an early penalty off an Italian scrum set the tone as Ireland immediately attacked the opposition line.

Sensing their superiority, Ireland opted for scrums off a series of penalties and the Italian dam inevitably burst in the 12th minute as Jackson’s impressive long pass set up a simple finish for Munster wing Earls.

The Munster man’s try meant that he joined Denis Hickie and Hugo McNeill in becoming the only Irish players to score tries in four successive internationals.

With Earls’ Munster team-mate Simon Zebo’s dancing feet making him an even bigger threat on the opposite wing, the Irish continued to attack in waves.

Zebo showed impressive passing skills to set up Stander’s first try on 18 minutes and another change from the left winger laid the foundations for Earls’ second try eight minutes later.

While Sergio Parisse’s line-out drive saw referee Glen Jackson award a penalty try in the 32nd minute, as Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan was sin-binned, it was a brief respite for the home side with Stander securing the first ever Six Nationswinning bonus point five minutes before half-time.

Ireland finish with a flourish after brief lull

The second half was largely a tale of two hat-tricks as Stander completed his haul on 46 minutes by running unhindered from just outside Italy’s 22, before replacement Gilroy’s late salvo.

With Gilroy among several Irish replacements in the third quartet, the visitors’ play became disjointed for a time although the Italians were not good enough to profit.

A dreadful Giovanbattista Venditti clearance was punished by Gilroy charging in from distance in the 69th minute for his third international try.

With Italian resolve long gone, Ringrose then sped right through the middle to score under the posts before Gilroy ran in two more touchdowns to complete his first international hat-trick.