Italy celebrate in Dublin
Italy made history in Dublin on Sunday and they did so in particularly mature fashion.

Even without experienced centre Michela Sillari, this was an Italian team which has played together for a while now, and they used that to weather an early Irish storm.

Despite going 7-0 down and losing Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi to a sin-bin, Le Azzurre were able to hold out and turn that disadvantage into an eight-point half-time lead, and eventually come away with a first-ever win away to Ireland, 27-21.

That did not necessarily look like it would be the case early on. When Ostuni Minuzzi flung out an arm in desperation to concede seven points after seven minutes, the Italians had not yet got into Ireland’s half.

Their scrum was under pressure, Aoife Wafer, Sam Monaghan and co were getting over the gain line at will and Ireland were playing with a level of freedom that was missing against France a week ago.

A week on from a heavy defeat to England, it would have been easy for Italy to crumble, especially with Francesca Sgorbini and Silvia Turani also forced off early through injury.

Instead, the Italian defence held strong when necessary, and when they got their chances, they took them. Beatrice Rigoni’s kicking for touch from penalties allowed them to build territory – setting up Vittoria Vecchini’s opening try.

Then, in the final ten minutes of the first half, Italy seized the initiative. Valeria Fedrighi got over for a second try, Rigoni added another penalty, and from nowhere, they had a two-score lead.

As much as the likes of Rigoni, Sillari and Sofia Stefan have been a part of this side for a long time now, there has also been an emergence of new blood – with Ostuni Minuzzi and Alyssa D’Inca just 22, while centre Emma Stevanin is still only 21.

All three played their part, most notably D’Inca on a searing run from her own 22 that ended with Vecchini’s second try.

And then when Neve Jones hit straight back for Ireland, Italy’s response was immediate. Aura Muzzo was denied one try but got over soon after to wrap up the bonus point.

As No.8 Ilaria Arrighetti put it, the way Italy stuck together in the tough moments was crucial.

She said: “We said we had to play as a team. We made some bad errors but we didn’t stop playing as a team for a single moment.”

Katie Corrigan’s late interception and some indiscipline almost proved costly, but it was fitting that a turnover from Beatrice Veronese saved Le Azzurre.

That was the area of the game which they dominated above all others, with both forwards and backs getting over the ball when the opportunity arose.

Next time, in Round 3 of the Guinness Women's Six Nations, Italy will face a tricky trip to France, who are two from two in this competition.

Les Bleues have struggled to take their chances so far in this campaign and this Italian side showed that their defence can withstand long periods where they do not have the ball.

After a first-ever win in Ireland, the objective now will be to make more history in Paris with a first away win in France.