Ireland come through strong to see off Italy

A number of Ireland players staked a claim for a World Cup spot in a 29-10 victory over Italy at the Aviva Stadium.

A number of Ireland players staked a claim for a World Cup spot in a 29-10 victory over Italy at the Aviva Stadium.

However there was concern over Joey Carbery, who scored a try and kicked two conversions before having to go off in the second half with an ankle problem.

By that stage, Ireland were in control after what had been a close first half of this first World Cup warm-up game for Schmidt’s team.

In their first match since the Guinness Six Nations finale against Wales, Ireland had named a relatively experimental side with Carbery partnering Luke McGrath in the half-backs, while Jean Kleyn and Mike Haley made their debuts, the latter off the bench.

Italy, meanwhile, were welcoming back Matteo Minozzi for the first time in a year and he was promoted to the starting line-up at the last minute when Marco Zanon was a late withdrawal.

Ireland were almost over within minutes of the kick-off when Dave Kearney sprinted on to Carbery’s clever kick through.

He could not quite gather the ball, under pressure from Edoardo Padovani, but it was an early warning sign of Ireland’s intent to use the kicking game regularly in attack.

Still, it was the Azzurri who hit the front on 13 minutes with the game’s opening try. Their forward pack looked well-oiled as they went to the corner and drove from forwards from the resulting lineout.

While Ireland held them out initially, Jimmy Tuivaiti then powered within inches of the line and Mbanda popped up to dart over from close range.

Ireland’s response was immediate, Carbery making the most of some lovely hands from Chris Farrell who had stepped into first receiver, with the fly-half ghosting over as a result. His conversion made it 7-5.

The lead did not last long through, Carlo Canna reacting quickest to a clever kick through from Giulio Bisegni. The opportunity arose after a lovely break from Tommaso Benvenuti in midfield, with a dummy and go around halfway to race into the heart of the Irish defence. Canna was off-target with his conversion again but the Azzurri led 10-7.

Ireland hit back once more, taking the lead for good as Farrell again made his presence felt. This time it came in more familiar fashion, as his hard running off the top of a lineout out the Italian defence back on their heels.

That space was welcomed by Carbery, who spread the ball wide and quick hands eventually saw Kearney over in the corner. Carbery converted from out wide to make it 14-10.

And just before half-time they stretched the lead with a score from Andrew Conway, impressive under the high ball all match. This time it came after good work from the forwards, with the defence sucked in and the Munster winger, who was named man of the match, benefiting with a simple finish on the right.

The second half started as the first had finished, with Ireland on the front foot. The forwards took control from an attacking lineout, with the maul eventually finished off by Jordi Murphy.

Carbery missed the conversion, and then left the action a few minutes later with an ankle injury which will be a cause for concern for Joe Schmidt and his coaching staff.

Jack Carty replaced him, and controlled the game well with the boot as Carbery had done before him.

However it was Tadhg Beirne who really stood out off the bench, seemingly able to turn the ball over at will as Italy struggled to create chances in the second half.

The Irish got a fifth try just after the hour, Kieran Marmion reacting quickest to charge down Ian McKinley, and then getting the bounce to dive over unopposed.

Italy almost got one try back when Federico Zani went over in the corner from a short lineout, but the ball had not gone five metres and it was disallowed.