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Ireland

  • Trimble, Sexton (2), Cronin, McFadden, Healy, McGrath,
    Penalty goals: Sexton,
    Conversions: Sexton (2), Jackson (2),
46 - 7

Italy

  • Sarto,
    Conversions: Orquera,

RBS Six Nations: Ireland v Italy match preview

Last updated: 8th March 2014  

Marco Bortolami Italy 2014

Marco Bortolami: Will lead the Azzurri

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Iain Henderson: Replaces Peter O'Mahony at blindside flanker

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Ireland will be looking to bounce back to winning ways when they host Italy in a top-versus-bottom Six Nations clash in Dublin on Saturday.

Joe Schmidt's side lost their unbeaten record in this season's competition with a narrow 13-10 defeat to England at Twickenham.

But the hosts will take confidence from previously posting two wins at home - over Scotland and Wales - and face a side who have yet to pick up a point in this season's championship.

The rock-bottom visitors go into the game on the back of a last-gasp 20-21 defeat to Scotland, which followed losses to Wales and France.

As well as current form, history is also against the Azzurri, who have not beaten Ireland in Dublin since a 37-29 victory in January 1997.

If the hosts do manage to win, a mouth-watering potential title-decider is looming on March 15 with France - who will also be targeting victory against Scotland on Saturday.

Team news

The only change to the Irish side which lost at Twickenham last time sees Ulster's Iain Henderson replace Peter O'Mahony at blindside flanker.

Munster captain O'Mahony has a hamstring problem and Schmidt has decided not to risk him with the France clash on the horizon.

Racing Metro fly-half Jonny Sexton has been passed fit to face the Azzurri, having recovered sufficiently from an injured thumb suffered in the defeat to England.

Former captain Brian O'Driscoll will set a new world-record for Test appearances, taking his tally to 140 with his eight Lions bows included.

Seven of Ireland's eight replacements hail from Leinster, the province Schmidt coached before stepping up to Ireland duty last summer.

Bortolami skippers

For the visitors, Marco Bortolami will lead the side in the absence of regular captain Sergio Parisse.

Coach Jacques Brunel has opted to rest the skipper, who has a thigh problem, and ensure his availability for their final Six Nations encounter of the year against England in Rome later this month.

Benetton Treviso's Robert Barbieri will take Parisse's place at number eight.

Lock Bortolami was benched for the last-gasp defeat by Scotland last month but, along with Paul Derbyshire and Luciano Orquera, is handed a recall by Brunel.

Derbyshire replaces flanker Alessandro Zanni, who injured his knee in the defeat to the Scots, and there is also a recall at scrum-half for Tito Tebaldi, who has been out of favour since the summer of 2012.

Prop Michele Rizzo is included among the replacements after serving a three-week suspension for head-butting an opponent and there are also places on the bench for Treviso flanker Manoa Vosawai and London Wasps centre Andrea Masi.

Ireland: 15 R Kearney, 14 Trimble, 13 O'Driscoll, 12 D'Arcy, 11 D Kearney, 10 Sexton, 9 Murray; 1 Healy, 2 Best, 3 Ross, 4 Toner, 5 O'Connell (c), 6 Henderson, 7 Henry, 8 Heaslip.

Replacements: 16 Cronin, 17 McGrath, 18 Moore, 19 Ruddock, 20 J Murphy, 21 Reddan, 22 Jackson, 23 McFadden.

Italy: 15 McLean, 14 Esposito, 13 Campagnaro, 12 Garcia, 11 Sarto, 10 Orquera, 9 Tebaldi; 1 De Marchi, 2 Ghiraldini, 3 Castrogiovanni, 4 Geldenhuys, 5 Bortolami (c), 6 Furno, 7 Derbyshire, 8 Barbieri.

Replacements: 16 Giazzon, 17 Rizzo, 18 Cittadini, 19 Pavanello, 20 Vosawai, 21 Gori, 22 Allan, 23 Masi.

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Forthcoming RBS Six Nations Fixtures
TimeFixture
RBS Six Nations
Friday 6th February
RBS Six Nations
20:05Wales vs England
Saturday 7th February
14:30Italy vs Ireland
17:00France vs Scotland
Saturday 14th February
14:30England vs Italy
17:00Ireland vs France
Sunday 15th February
15:00Scotland vs Wales
Saturday 28th February
14:30Scotland vs Italy
17:00France vs Wales
Sunday 1st March
15:00Ireland vs England

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Phil Edwards

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