Six Nations: Nine-try Ireland hammer Italy in Dublin
Last Updated: 13/03/16 5:48pm
Ireland notched up their first victory of the 2016 Six Nations with a 58-15 win over Italy in Dublin on Saturday.
After drawing with Wales and losing to France and England, Joe Schmidt's men showcased their credentials with a clinical performance to ease some of the pressure that was building on them.
From the outset Ireland were intent on attacking the Italy line, turning down shots at goal in favour of lineouts and scrums, and they were rewarded as they took a 25-3 lead at half-time thanks to tries from Andrew Trimble, Jack McGrath, CJ Stander and Jamie Heaslip.
Heaslip then scored a second after half-time to go with scores from Jared Payne, Sean Cronin, Ian Madigan and Fergus McFadden.
For Italy it was a disheartening game as they struggled to keep up with their relentless hosts from the beginning.
It was a bit of fortune that led to the opening try as a Sexton chip ahead was thrown from Italy's hands into those of Payne, who was brought down short of the line. The Italian defence failed to recover in time and the ball was sent left to Trimble for the first five-pointer in the corner.
When Ireland were awarded a penalty shortly thereafter, Rory Best turned down the three points and pointed to the corner. The forwards punched the ball up through several phases before McGrath rewarded his captain's faith by crashing over from close range.
Edoardo Padovani then added a penalty to made it 12-3, but the effort was matched by Sexton in the 27th minute.
Stander then muscled over for Ireland's third try before Heaslip added another shortly before half-time. Neither was converted by Sexton as the two sides headed to the break with Ireland comfortably ahead.
Ireland were defending in the opening stages of the second period before Payne read a pass brilliantly to intercept and race clear for a score, and Heaslip crossed for Ireland's sixth in the 49th minute. With Sexton converting both, the Irish led 39-3.
A quick tap penalty from Keith Earls led to Cronin bursting through the Italy defence to race away for his try, but his score was erased by Italy's first of the day when Leonardo Sarto took a looping pass to dot down in the corner.
The winger managed to score a second try, but it was sandwiched between scores from McFadden and Madigan to round off a relieving win for Schmidt and his team.