Ireland beat Italy to maintain perfect start
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Ireland joined Wales at the top of the standings with a 38-9 victory over Italy at Rome's Stadio Flaminio on Sunday. The Irish who scored five tries will next face England.
REUTERS - Ireland continued their good start to the Six Nations on Sunday with a flattering 38-9 win over Italy.
Tries either side of halftime by winger Luke Fitzgerald and flanker David Wallace turned the match in the visitors favour after a close first period.
Tommy Bowe went over the line too, while Fitzgerald scored a second try and captain Brian O'Driscoll touched down in a late flurry that gave an unfair look to the scoreline with flyhalf Ronan O'Gara also kicking 11 points.
His opposite number Luke McLean, making his first Six Nations start, provided Italy's points with three first-half penalties.
Ireland joined Wales at the top of the standings with two wins from two games after last week's 30-21 victory over France in Dublin.
Italy clearly wanted to make an aggressive start after last week's 36-11 drubbing in England and fullback Andrea Masi was sinbinned in the first minute for a high tackle that almost decapitated his opposite number Rob Kearney.
Despite being down to 14 men, McLean put the hosts in front with a penalty and Ireland looked rattled.
O'Gara misplaced several early kicks and handling mistakes scuppered some promising Irish moves before McLean was on target again to make it 6-0.
OFF THE HOOK
The Azzurri let the visitors off the hook in the 19th minute when a mix-up in the backs enabled winger Bowe to sprint over from halfway and O'Gara kicked the conversion.
With O'Gara off the field for a yellow card for tackling off the ball, Ireland turned down a series of penalty opportunities and tried to barge their way back over the line after McLean had kicked another penalty to put the home team back in front.
They were rewarded on the stroke of halftime when Fitzgerald slipped through a gap to score his first international try and Kearney scored the extras to give them a 14-9 advantage at the break.
Wallace ran through another hole six minutes into the second half and that was effectively the end of the game as a contest.
Italy didn't give up, but their backs lacked the guile to seriously trouble the Irish defence and after an uneventful 30 minutes, the quick-thinking Fitzgerald exchanged passes with flanker Stephen Ferris to sprint home for his second try.
The Italians had improved with Paul Griffen recalled at scrumhalf after a 16-month exile but the late capitulation, completed by O'Driscoll's intercepted try three minutes from time, will have left their morale in tatters.
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