Bowe brace inspires Irish to easy victory
IRELAND 42 ITALY 10
To the double ... Ireland winger Tommy Bowe scored twice. Photo: AFP
DUBLIN: Two tries from Tommy Bowe helped Ireland maintain their 100% Six Nations record over Italy here at Lansdowne Road, with a crushing 42-10 victory on Saturday.
Bowe's double - taking his tally to 22 in 46 tests - Keith Earls, Tom Court's first for his country in his 26th appearance and Andrew Trimble crossed the line to give the hosts a deserved first win of this season's tournament.
It was also a landmark day for Ronan O'Gara who came on in the second-half for his 118th cap to make him the all-time most capped Irishman.
Away ... Ireland winger Andrew Trimble evades a tackle by Italy's Gonzalo Javier Canale to score Ireland's final try. Photo: AFP
Italy skipper Sergio Parisse's converted first-half try had briefly drawn the two sides level at 10-10.
"It was a good team performance and we out performed them in the second-half," said flanker Stephen Ferris.
"We upped our skill levels this week and it was reflected in what we did on the pitch," he added.
Sergio Parisse scores Italy's only try . Photo: AFP
New Italy coach Jacques Brunel had hoped it would be lucky no.13 against Ireland since their tournament debut in 2000, but despite an encouraging first half, the Azzuri could not halt their losing streak.
As has happened so often before, the scoreline did not fully reflect the performance of the visitors.
They went in 17-10 behind at the break, and while that scoreline appeared harsh, a blistering second half show by the Irish ensured they go to Paris next Sunday for the re-arranged fixture with the French in confident mood.
Ireland thrash Italy in Dublin
Ireland and Italy players jump for the ball . Photo: Reuters
Brunel made four changes to the side that lost to England last time out, while Declan Kidney kept the same team that he had intended to start in the aborted match in Paris a fortnight ago.
Having lost the lost last three test matches at Lansdowne Road Ireland wanted a performance that would bury the memory of the narrow loss to Wales in the opening round.
If Italy had had a more reliable fly-half, there could have been even greater anxiety in Dublin, with South African-born Tobias Botes missing three relatively straightforward kicks.
The Treviso player missed his very first opportunity in the second minute, but then traded penalties with Jonathan Sexton in a muted opening 10 minutes.
Kidney would have been pleased with the manner in which Keith Earls assumed the heavy burden of replacing the injured legend Brian O'Driscoll in the centres and he added lustre to it with their first try.
After good work by Gordon D'Arcy brought Ireland into the Italian 22, the ball eventually found Earls, who punched a hole through the weak defence of Botes and Luke McLean.
Italy fought back quickly and after Alberto Sgardi went close, there was no stopping Parisse, who ran home after Botes' dummy-and-pass gave the Italian skipper a try on a plate.
Ireland were rattled, but they ensured a half-time lead after some good work by the impressive Ferris, who sent his former Ulster team mate Bowe in unopposed.
While Kidney made no changes in personnel at half time, the 25-0 second half scorecard tells its own story.
Ireland simply pummeled the Italians into submission with tries from Bowe - taking his tally to three in this season's tournament - replacement Tom Court and a great solo break by Trimble right at the death ensuring a convincing full-time score.
IRELAND 42 (Keith Earls, Tommy Bowe (2), Tom Court, Andrew Trimble tries; Jonathan Sexton 4 con, 3 pens) def ITALY 10 (Sergio Parisse try; Tobias Botes con, pen). Attendance: 50,000. Referee: Craig Joubert (RSA)