Johnny Sexton was delighted with the way Ireland bounced back from successive defeats to secure their first victory of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations with a 48-10 victory over Italy.
The Men in Green ran in six tries at Stadio Olimpico, with Will Connors helping himself to a double, as well as first-half scores for Garry Ringrose and Hugo Keenan in a resounding victory on the road for Farrell’s side.
CJ Stander and Keith Earls also got themselves on the scoresheet in Rome, as the visitors provided the perfect response to defeats to Wales and France in the opening two rounds of the Championship.
And Sexton was delighted with the performances of his side’s backs in Saturday’s clash, as they proved too hot for Italy to handle throughout the 80 minutes in the Italian capital.
“We felt as a team probably as backs we let them [the forwards] down at times, with them giving us some great ball and not using it so well,” the Ireland captain said.
“I think we improved on that in those areas today and thankfully we got the victory we were desperate for.
“We spoke about how close we were in the first two, both very different games but I’m just very proud of the boys, the way we bounced back.
“It’s a real sign of character when things aren’t going our way like they haven’t been over the last few weeks to stick together and to show the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes.”
It was Italy who got the first points on the board in Rome, as Paolo Garbisi slotted a penalty, before Sexton replied with a three-pointer of his own at the other end.
From there it was all Ireland, as Ringrose grabbed the first try of the game ten minutes in, before Keenan added another on the half-hour mark, as he showed Luca Sperandio a clean pair of heels en route to the try line.
Connors added a third before the break, as Farrell’s side showcased some dazzling rugby, before Johan Meyer got one back for the hosts on the stroke of half-time to make the score 27-10 at the interval.
It was much the same story in the second half, as Stander touched down to secure the bonus point two minutes in, before Connors grabbed his second of the game and Ireland’s fifth with just over ten minutes to play.
Earls then went over to round off the scoring, leaving Sexton to look forward to Ireland’s Round 4 clash with Scotland in a fortnight’s time, with the performance in Rome putting them in high spirits ahead of the trip to BT Murrayfield.
“We need to keep our performance level like that, against two very good sides. Scotland have been very impressive in their first two rounds,” the fly-half said.
“If not for a red card then they could have been top of the table probably, so they’re a really impressive team and we’ve just got to keep on improving our performances.
“This group is on a journey together, we’re a year into it and we’d have liked to have that performance earlier, it’s not for want of trying it’s just little fix ups along the way and thankfully we put a few of them right.”