Six nations: Italy decimated 10-63 by Irish
ROME--CJ Stander and Craig Gilroy scored hat-tricks to help Ireland regroup from their Scotland defeat to earn a nine-try Six Nations win over Italy in Rome and the first bonus point win in the tournament’s history.
The Irish arrived in clinical form and it quickly saw them assert scrum domination. This helped the Irish take immediate control in the match and the bonus point was secured by the 35th minute as Stander and Keith Earls both notched two tries.
Italy managed to score a first-half penalty try but for the most part were outclassed. After Stander completed his hat-trick on 46, replacement Gilroy repeated the feat with Garry Ringrose also scoring. South African-born Stander's third try meant he became the first Ireland player to score a Six Nations hat-trick since Brian O'Driscoll achieved the feat against Scotland in 2002. Winger Craig Gilroy then also completed the hat-trick act as he notched his three scores in an 11-minute period toward the end of the test at the Stadio Olimpico.
Ireland's victory was their biggest ever Six Nations win as the margin exceeded the 60-13 win over the Azzurri in 2000. Joe Schmidt's side achieved the victory despite being without skipper Rory Best who had to be replaced by Niall Scannell who came into the side for his debut.
Conor O'Shea's Italy side contained Wales for over an hour in Rome last weekend before eventually succumbing 33-7 as Ireland's dreadful start at Murrayfield contributed massively to their defeat by the Scots. This was not to be the case this time as a huge early shove by Cian Healy to force an early penalty off an Italian scrum became indicative of what was to follow as they immediately attacked the opposition try line.
Ireland chose to assert their dominance and having sensed their superiority, Ireland opted for scrums off a series of penalties and the Italian dam inevitably burst in the 12th minute as Paddy Jackson's impressive long pass set up a simple finish for wing Keith Earls.
With Earls' Munster team-mate Simon Zebo's dancing feet making him an even bigger threat on the opposite wing, the Irish continued to attack in waves. Zebo showed impressive passing skills to set up Stander's first try on 18 minutes and another change from the left winger laid the foundations for Earls' second try eight minutes later.
Sergio Parisse's line-out drive saw referee Glen Jackson award a penalty try in the 32nd minute, as Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan was sin-binned, it was a brief respite for the home side with Stander securing the first ever Six Nations winning bonus point five minutes before half-time. The crowd in the Stadio Olimpico had already resorted to starting Mexican waves as interest in the fixture started to wane.
The second half was largely a tale of two hat-tricks as Stander completed his haul on 46 minutes by running unhindered from just outside Italy's 22, before replacement Gilroy's late heroics. With Gilroy among several Irish replacements in the final 20 minutes, the visitors' play became disjointed for a time although the Italians were not good enough to profit.
A dreadful Giovanbattista Venditti clearance was punished by Gilroy charging in from distance in the 69th minute for his third international try. With Italian resolve long gone, Ringrose then sped right through the middle to score under the posts before Gilroy ran in two more tries to complete his first international hat-trick.