Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Bowe stars for Ireland

Tommy Bowe led the assault as Ireland thrust themselves back into RBS 6 Nations title contention with a comprehensive 42-10 victory over Italy.

Bowe crossed in each half to move third in the all-time list of Irish try-scorers with 22, trailing Brian O'Driscoll and Denis Hickie.

The rout was initiated by Keith Earls, who celebrated his return following the recent birth of his first child by slipping over in the first minute, with Tom Court and Andrew Trimble also touching down.

Fly-half Jonathan Sexton finished with 17 points in a flawless afternoon and was joined in the second half by Ronan O'Gara, who surpassed O'Driscoll to become Ireland's most capped player with 118 appearances.

While the scoreboard points to an easy afternoon, Ireland made heavy work of it and at times were guilty of over-elaborating.

But coach Declan Kidney will otherwise be pleased with a comfortable victory that has provided some positive news in an otherwise ill-fated campaign.

Since losing to Wales on February 5 thanks to a penalty that a disciplinary hearing later admitted should not have been awarded, they have since seen their clash with France postponed at the last minute and lost their forwards coach Gert Smal for the rest of the championship due to an eye condition.

Dispatching Italy - a result that concludes their sequence of three successive home defeats - at last provides them with a platform as they prepare for their return to Paris next Sunday.

New Azzurri coach Jacques Brunel made four changes to the side edged by England, the most notable of which saw Tobias Botes preferred ahead of Kristopher Burton at fly-half.

It was Botes' full Test debut and he produced enough to suggest he is worth persevering with, although his statistics of just two successful kicks in five attempts made for grim reading. Sergio Parisse scored the visitors' only try of the game in the first half.


From Belfast Telegraph