RUGBY WORLD CUP POOL D: Ireland secure quarter-final spot after narrow win against Italy

Ireland's Iain Henderson in action during the World Cup match against Italy
Ireland's Iain Henderson in action during the World Cup match against Italy

IRELAND 16 ITALY 9

Ireland booked their place in the World Cup quarter-finals as Keith Earls’ first-half try helped Joe Schmidt’s side to a 16-9 win over Italy.

Earls’ score at the Olympic Stadium was his eighth in World Cups, making him Ireland’s top try-scorer in the history of the tournament, while fly-half Johnny Sexton kicked 11 points to hold off a spirited Italy.

Ireland are guaranteed to reach the knock-out stages and will play France next Sunday to decide who finishes top and likely avoids champions New Zealand in the last eight.

Defeat ends Italy’s chances of progress but Jacques Brunel’s side can take heart from a determined performance, which stretched a team many believe represent Europe’s best hope of becoming champions.