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Eddie O'Sullivan reviews the Ireland vs Italy clash

Eddie O'Sullivan reviews the Ireland vs Italy clash
Ireland are still on track to win a second Championship in five years after demolishing Italy at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday. The forty- point drubbing was the perfect curtain call to Brian O’Driscoll’s final game in a green shirt on Irish soil. But it also means Ireland have a points difference of +81 which would give us an almost unassailable position with a win in Paris next Saturday.

Ireland’s game plan came to full fruition after an hour of play. Up until then it was fast and furious rugby with not a huge amount to show for it. To be fair once Andrew Trimble touched down in the 37th minute to take the score to 17-7 at the break the outcome of the game was never in doubt.

Prior to that Ireland had dominated territory and possession with little to show for their efforts. In fact when Leonardo Sarto danced his way past the Kearney brothers and Luciao Orquera added the extras to level the scores at seven all, it left the Irish supporters pretty shocked, considering the dominance Ireland had enjoyed until that point in the game.

But this was just a minor hiccup and Ireland’s overall plan was to run Italy off their feet for as long as it took to break them. Italy did finally crack in the 60th minute when Jonathan Sexton scored his second try of the game. Italy continued to battle but at that stage they were punch drunk and leaked another three tries before the end of the game. The impact of the Irish bench was seen in full with those final tries being scored by three replacements: Sean Cronin, Fergus McFadden and Jack McGrath.

With Ireland dominating territory, possession and speeding up the game at every opportunity the game plan worked to perfection. Despite Italy battling until the end they were chasing shadows as the game wore on.

The man of the match award went to Brian O’Driscoll, which he jokingly questioned afterwards on the basis he had only played for sixty minutes. But in that time he had a massive influence in the game. As always his work rate and quality thereof was phenomenal and his defence was as physical and precise as ever. But above all he was the creator of Ireland’s first three tries with three sublime offloads. If that isn’t a man of the match material then what is?

In Edinburgh a dishevelled as ever looking France fell over the finish line against Scotland with a 78th minute penalty. It was nothing France delivered in terms of a performance that landed them the win. It was more to do with an opportunistic intercept try against the run of play by Yoann Huget and Scotland’s penalty count of thirteen that undid them.

Despite their horrendous form, that win keeps France in with a chance of winning the Championship. Although with a points difference of just +3 that is all but impossible when you consider England are likely to win with plenty to spare in Rome. Still it will give France something extra to put in their locker for Ireland next Saturday evening in Paris.

Of course England will feel they are genuinely still in the hunt even if Ireland beat France. They will go to Rome and expect to rack up a big score on Italy. They beat Wales relatively comfortably and it was England’s indiscipline and Leigh Halfpenny’s laser-like accuracy with the boot that kept Wales in the game.

Despite all that England have a points difference of +32, which is forty-nine points behind Ireland’s total. As it stands you would have to say Ireland are still on track. Back to Blog

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