Ireland beats Italian outfit 29-11 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ireland beats Italian outfit 29-11

07/02/2010 06:35:31 AM Comments (0)

Ireland beat a woeful Italian outfit 29-11 at Croke Park here on Saturday with an uninspiring performance as they opened their defence of the Six Nations rugby title.

Veteran fly-half Ronan O'Gara, under pressure for his place from the emerging Jonathan Sexton, put in a peerless performance kicking 16 points before injury forced him off in the last quarter, while Italy's defence was stout but their lineout shaky.

The hosts, though, did grab two first-half tries through Jamie Heaslip and scrum-half Tomas O'Leary, his first in the green shirt.

The Azzuri were expecting the set piece to prove their best platform, especially in the scrum, with the inexperienced Cian Healy packing down against the mighty Martin Castrogiovanni.

But the 22-year-old laid down a marker at the first scrum earning Ireland their first scoring chance when referee Romain Poite penalised the Leicester prop for collapsing.

O'Gara took the three points and the Irish scrum held up well throughout.

Ireland's next score came from a technically superb passing movement set up by O'Gara, created by Andrew Trimble and Brian O'Driscoll, and finished by Jamie Heaslip giving the No.8 his fourth Test try.

Italy had missed a golden chance when Luke McClean failed to spot Kaine Robertson in position to score with a virtually certain try in the sixth minute.

Eventually the visitors got on the scoreboard with a Craig Gower penalty after Ireland engaged too early at the scrum. But they then had the misfortune of seeing Gonzalo Garcia binned under the stricter rules on spear tackling.

It was one of the softest yellow cards imaginable. And the Italians had reason for grievance when the same level of enforcement was not applied to Leo Cullen for tackling in the air at the lineout early in the second half.

It got worse for the Azzuri after fine running from the Irish led to an Italian lineout five metres from their line.

The throw to the shortened line went straight into the arms of Leo Cullen who drove to within a metre of a try.

The cover was slow to arrive allowing O'Leary to flop over for five points. O'Gara added the extra two.

The Italians concluded the half with a try by Kaine Robertson who blocked a poor clearance kick by Rob Kearney and collected over the try line to score. Mirco Bergamasco tried the conversion from the corner but missed.

The Italian winger was more accurate early in the second half with a penalty but O'Gara replied almost straight from the restart after another penalty for collapsing the scrum restored the 15-point margin.

Both teams resorted to a safety-first aerial game which suited the Italians who began to get their lineout together after Carlo Del Fava was replaced by Marco Bortolami at lock.

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