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Ireland 33-17 Italy: Hosts bag Rugby World Cup warm-up Test win at Aviva Stadium with Caelan Doris the standout

Dave Kilcoyne, Caelan Doris (two), Stuart McCloskey, Cian Healy scored tries as Ireland beat Italy in Dublin in their first Rugby World Cup warm-up Test of the summer; Jack Crowley added three conversions; Andy Farrell's side next face England at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday August 19

Doris, Ireland
Image: Caelan Doris was the standout performer as Ireland proved too much for Italy in Dublin in their RWC warm-up Test

Ireland began their 2023 Rugby World Cup preparations with a routine 33-17 win over Italy at the Aviva Stadium, with back-row Caelan Doris the star performer in victory. 

The Ireland back-row scored two tries himself, and was directly involved in creating two more for loosehead prop Dave Kilcoyne and centre Stuart McCloskey, while his breakdown work in defence was also superb. Replacement loosehead Cian Healy added a try in the second half.

An impressive first half dictated by youthful half-backs Jack Crowley and Craig Casey, in addition to Doris, was unmatched in the second half, as a series of changes disrupted Ireland's flow and control, with Italian backs Lorenzo Pani and Tommaso Menoncello getting in for tries.

Ireland 33-17 Italy - Score summary

Ireland - Tries: Kilcoyne (13), Doris (29, 73), McCloskey (36), Healy (65). Cons: Crowley (14, 30, 37), Frawley (74).

Italy - Tries: Pani (51), Menoncello (69). Cons: Allan (52, 70). Pens: Allan (3).

Ireland No 8 Jack Conan was substituted in the first half with a lower-leg injury said not to be serious, but Italy tighthead Marco Riccioni (knee) and centre Menoncello (shoulder) departed with injuries which may put their World Cup involvements in doubt.

Ireland, Italy RWC warm-up
Image: Ireland and Italy faced each other at the Aviva Stadium in preparation for September's Rugby World Cup in France

Italy took an early lead in the third minute after errors from Ireland duo Conan (held up in a maul from his carry) and Kilcoyne (collapsing to his knee at a scrum) handed Tommaso Allan a penalty chance near the 22, which he converted for 3-0.

Italy's Tommaso Allan
Image: Italy's Tommaso Allan kicked the opening points of the game via a penalty on three minutes

The Irish crowd thought scrum-half Casey was in for an early try in response, but play was brought back for an earlier knock-on by Iain Henderson - Ireland's skipper for the Test which saw names on the back of player jerseys for the first time in Irish rugby history.

The home support need not have worried, though, as with 13 minutes on the clock Kilcoyne forced his way over with Doris as support on his shoulder for the opening try after a period of sustained pressure, which began when Italy debutant Paolo Odogwu knocked on a skyscraper of a Casey box-kick in the 22.

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Kilcoyne, Doris
Image: Dave Kilcoyne celebrates his try for Ireland with Doris having latched onto his shoulder

Crowley converted superbly, and after Italy kicked the restart directly off the pitch, and full-back Jimmy O'Brien soon produced a brilliant tactical kick in behind the Italian defence towards the corner, Ireland had a platform to attack just outside the Italy 22. A soft penalty for obstruction at a five-metre lineout following an Italy penalty at the ruck let the visitors off the hook, however.

A magnificent Jacob Stockdale aerial take on the run soon saw Ireland spread play across the pitch for a big chance, and when Keith Earls grubber-kicked ahead, O'Brien was just beaten to the ball in-goal by Allan.

Ireland continued to attack at pace, and when Casey took a quick tap and Italy loosehead Danilo Fischetti tackled him almost immediately, as opposed to being back the required 10 metres, he was duly sin-binned. Within a couple of minutes, Ireland had their second try as Doris flew over after breaking away from the back of a rolling maul with Conan and Rob Herring on his shoulder.

Image: Doris powered over for Ireland's second try inside the first half-hour

Crowley converted well again, and after a brilliant Doris turnover and offside penalty followed, Italy looked to have done enough by halting a maul attack, only for a brilliant Doris tackle on scrum-half Stephen Varney and fantastic Ireland counter-ruck to allow powerful centre McCloskey the simple task of stepping through the ruck, picking up the ball and landing over the try-line to score.

Stuart McCloskey
Image: Stuart McCloskey got over for Ireland's third try in a dominant first half

Fischetti returned from his sin-binning with his side 21-3 behind, and Italy looking at a mountain to climb in the second half.

Casey, Crowley
Image: Youthful Munster half-backs Craig Casey and Jack Crowley impressed in the first half

It was the Azzurri who struck first in the second period, though, as replacement back Pani scored down the right in the 51st minute as Ireland were caught narrow off a lineout and Stockdale was too easily brushed aside by the 21-year-old.

After a period of frustration following an emptying of the bench, a trademark Tadhg Beirne breakdown win got Ireland going again past the hour mark, with a fourth try arriving via the evergreen Healy as he fought his way over after Tadhg Furlong had been stopped just short.

Image: Doris darted over the try-line for Ireland's fifth try in an outstanding individual display

Menoncello got in for a second Italy try soon after the restart when he won a one-on-one battle with Earls close to the try-line after the latter had been moved to centre, but Ireland soon had a fifth try when Doris darted for the line after Crowley had manufactured a gap for Stockdale and Ireland did not let up until they scored.

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