SIX NATIONS: Ireland score record nine tries in demolition of Italians

Ireland's Jared Payne offloads the ball during the 2016 RBS 6 Nations against Italy
Ireland's Jared Payne offloads the ball during the 2016 RBS 6 Nations against Italy
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IRELAND 58 ITALY 15

The Irish ran in nine tries - a record for them in the Six Nations - against a poor Italian side.

Ireland made a lively start although it was the Italians who came first to opening the scoring after just two minutes.

CJ Stander’s cheap maul penalty gifted Italy the first attacking platform, but Conor Murray pulled off a try-saving tackle on centre Garcia Gonzalo to put him into touch.

Devin Toner’s lineout steal set Ireland on the front foot, and the hosts plundered the first score courtesy of Italy’s defensive disarray.

Wing Leonardo Sarto tapped back Johnny Sexton’s cute chip, expecting full-back David Odiete to be sat in the pocket in his own 22.

Odiete had instead raced up, leaving Sarto unwittingly handing Ireland the ideal attacking platform.

From the next ruck Ireland broke blind and Andrew Trimble powered into the left corner for the game’s first try.

The hosts quickly doubled their try tally when Jack McGrath powered home after a series of tight drives off the back of a penalty lineout.

While Italy offered scant resistance, young flanker Josh Van der Flier’s astute rucking opened the door for McGrath to burrow home.

Sexton’s conversion let Ireland end the first quarter 12-0 to the good.

Fly-half Edoardo Padovani cut Ireland’s procession with a penalty, but the respite was short-lived.

Sergio Parisse’s late tackle on Sexton allowed Ireland’s playmaker a shot at goal, and he duly converted a penalty of his own, to push the home men 15-3 ahead.

Ireland suddenly realised Italy were already floundering, almost unforgiveable less than half an hour into a Test amtch.

Simon Zebo stepped and pirouetted through defensive caverns, and only an unfortunate bounce into touch from Sexton’s disguised reverse chip let Italy off the hook.

Ireland claimed their score from the very next play, as Keith Earls bisected Italy’s bamboozled line thanks to Jared Payne’s neat inside ball.

Munster flanker Stander powered home from a tight drive for his first Test try, to ease Ireland into a 20-3 lead.

Ireland fended off a lineout maul just metres from their own line, before later racing the length to finish the half in style - with potentially the try of the tournament to date.

Heaslip produced a lung-busting support run to cap a fluent move for Ireland’s fourth try, Simon Zebo, Jared Payne and Johnny Sexton all involved, before temporary replacement Fergus McFadden provided the scoring pass for the number eight.

Half-time 25-3

Padovani’s horror-show wide pass gifted Ireland their fifth try and handed Italy the nightmare second-half opening.

The Zebre fly-half whipped the ball towards an unsuspecting Michele Campagnaro, who was left stranded as Payne zipped through to intercept and canter under the posts.

Vice captain Heaslip capped a fluent lineout move for his second and Ireland’s sixth score, with Sexton’s conversion pushing the hosts’ lead to 39-3.And that conversion proved Sexton’s final act, head coach Schmidt fully confident of victory with more than half an hour to play.

Madigan slotted in at fly-half, with Sean Cronin replacing captain Rory Best at hooker for his 50th Ireland cap.

Leinster front-rower Cronin had been on the field less than five minutes when he raced home for the seventh score of the day.

More Ireland replacements cut the momentum, allowing David Odiete to cross for a score in the right corner.

Replacement Kelly Haimona’s conversion left Ireland leading 46-10.

Leonardo Sarto crossed for an unconverted try for the Italians but the Irish had the final say McFadden going over to register a new try scoring record for the men in green in the Six Nations, Madigan converting.

LINE-UPS

Ireland: S Zebo (Munster); A Trimble (Ulster), J Payne (Ulster), R Henshaw (Connacht), K Earls (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); J McGrath (Leinster), R Best (Ulster, capt), M Ross (Leinster), D Ryan (Munster), D Toner (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster), J van der Flier (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster).

Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster), F Bealham (Connacht), N White (Connacht), U Dillane (Connacht), R Ruddock (Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), I Madigan (Leinster), F McFadden (Leinster).

Italy: D Odiete (Mogliano); L Sarto (Zebre), M Campagnaro (Exeter), G Garcia (Zebre), M Bellini (Padova); E Padovani (Zebre), G Palazzani (Zebre); A Lovotti (Zebre), D Giazzon (Treviso), L Cittadini (Wasps), G Biagi (Zebre), M Fuser (Treviso), F Minto (Treviso), A Zanni (Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais, capt).

Replacements: O Fabiani (Zebre), M Zanusso (Treviso), D Chistolini (Zebre), Q Geldenhuys (Zebre), A Steyn (Treviso), A Lucchese (Treviso), K Haimona (Zebre), L McLean (Treviso).

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia).