Ireland (Six Nations outright 5/1) enjoyed an easy afternoon at the Aviva Stadium as two tries from debutant Michael Lowry helped them defeat Italy 57-6 in the Six Nations.
Andy Farrell’s side were expected to comfortably defeat the Azzurri, who have not won a game in the competition since 2015.
They certainly matched pre-game expectations and were given a big helping hand by Italy in the early stages.
Hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi was forced off with injury inside the opening ten minutes and replaced by Hame Faiva.
However, Faiva was red-carded for making head contact with Dan Sheehan only ten minutes later, and with no other forward options on the bench, Italy had to play on with 13 men and scrums became uncontested – number eight Toa Halafihi being the sacrificial lamb.
As a result, the match was made easy for an Ireland side who will fancy their chances of winning the Six Nations.
Ulster full-back Lowry, who was featuring for his country for the first time, scored a brace as did James Lowe.
Nine tries were scored in total with Joey Carbery, Jamison Gibson-Park, Peter O’Mahony, Ryan Baird, and Kieran Treadwell also crossing over.
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Despite the size of the win, Farrell admits he wasn’t entirely pleased with the performance and has hailed Italy for their efforts, with the visitors ending the game with 12 men following a late yellow card for Braam Steyn.
“I thought it was sloppy at times,” Farrell told reporters.
“We got the points we needed at the end but a game becomes frustrating when you come down to 12 men.
“I thought Italy were unbelievably brave. Getting off the line. Really tough and hard at the breakdown. It gave us lots to ponder on.
“It’s not nice to see for the game.”
The win puts Ireland up to second in the standings ahead of their crunch clash with England (Six Nations Outright 11/2) at Twickenham on March 12.
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