Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll believes Andy Farrell’s men were a far greater attacking force in Round 3 but will have to step up again against Scotland.
Having suffered defeat in their opening two games, Ireland earned a vital 48-10 victory over Italy with a much-improved display full of attacking verve in Rome.
Will Connors ran in a pair of tries while there were also scores for Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan, CJ Stander and Keith Earls as a difficult Guinness Six Nations to date delivered its first signs of optimism.
But, while serving as a pundit for ITV, O’Driscoll stated that the visit to BT Murrayfield in a fortnight will truly test the improvement of Farrell’s men.
“Ireland created a huge amount more chances,” O’Driscoll said.
“It will be very different in Murrayfield but they created way more [today]. That’s where they’ve been struggling in the past.
“We haven’t got a sense of what they’ve been trying to do [before this game]. They married the physical well with the fleet of foot, which had a positive knock-on effect.
“There were way more offloads, way more line breaks, and creating way more chances. They’ll obviously be disappointed that they didn’t convert more in the second half.
“On top of that, we saw green shoots of the future with (Craig) Casey and Ryan Baird coming in. We don’t want to lose the run of ourselves but it was a significantly improved performance on what we saw in the first two rounds.”
Farrell made seven changes for the trip to Italy, with influential skipper Johnny Sexton back after missing the Round 2 clash with France through injury.
And the veteran fly-half showed his class, scoring 18 points from the boot while also orchestrating the Irish attack with a string of pinpoint passes.
Prop Tadhg Furlong also shined on his return to the starting XV, and O’Driscoll is pleased with how Ireland’s squad is now shaping up with two more games to go.
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“We saw a better picture as to what they are trying to achieve. I think Andy Farrell will be conscious of not having an overly inflated view of where they are at because of the opposition – Italy were very poor in parts.
“It reinforced the point that Johnny Sexton is Andy Farrell’s number 10, and captain – he pulled the strings magnificently.
“It’s great to see Tadhg Furlong back playing well. He adds some extra meat to the pack that’s going to be needed in Murrayfield.”