Dublin, February 11, 2024, The Europe Today: Ireland maintained their Six Nations momentum with an authoritative 36-0 triumph over Italy on Sunday at the Aviva Stadium, securing a second consecutive bonus-point victory and keeping their grand slam title defense aspirations alive.
Coach Andy Farrell’s strategic six changes from the lineup that defeated France 38-17 proved effective, showcasing Ireland’s squad depth. The dominant performance saw Ireland’s big ball carriers and rapid attacking play overwhelm Italy, leaving the visitors unable to counter the host’s prowess.
Two tries from Dan Sheehan, along with scores from Jack Crowley, Jack Conan, James Lowe, and Calvin Nash, propelled Ireland to a convincing win, placing them two points clear at the top of the Six Nations standings. Ireland’s form stands unrivaled in the competition.
Player of the match, James Lowe, praised Ireland’s phenomenal set-piece performance and expressed satisfaction with the result, acknowledging areas for improvement in future matches.
Ireland signaled their intent early, opting for quick ball movement to exploit gaps, with flyhalf Jack Crowley scoring his first international try just eight minutes into the game. Despite occasional scrappiness and penalties conceded, Ireland’s persistence paid off as Jack Conan’s try at halftime put them in a commanding 19-0 lead.
Crowley, seeking to secure the spot vacated by Johnny Sexton, showcased comfort and skill with the ball, contributing to Sheehan’s tries and maintaining pressure on Italy.
The Irish pack, including standout performers Joe McCarthy, Ryan Baird, and Craig Casey, asserted dominance. Sheehan secured the bonus point with his try on the 50th minute, followed by tries from Lowe and Nash. The game concluded with Italy failing to threaten Ireland’s line in the second half.
While Ireland’s performance was impressive, the potential concern arose from fullback Hugo Keenan leaving the field with an injury in the second half, highlighting a position where Ireland lacks notable depth.
As Ireland prepares to face Wales in two weeks’ time, the comprehensive victory against Italy has solidified their standing as a formidable force in the Six Nations, fueling hopes of a successful title defense.