Five things we learned during Ireland's routine Six Nations success over Italy
1. Azzurri fail to pitch up again
With Conor O’Shea making his return to Dublin, the homecoming was hardly a warm one. It’s an argument that some find tiresome, but Italy’s presence in this championship needs addressed. No wins since 2015, and having shipped at least 45 to Ireland in four of the last five seasons, they’re providing little bar a biennial Rome trip for fans.
2. Tries rain down but Ireland not perfect on dry Dublin day
After beating France at a sodden Stade de France despite scoring zero tries and engineering not a single linebreak, Ireland’s attack ran riot against agreeable opposition. Jacob Stockdale grabbed two of the eight tries but there were still moments of inaccuracy from his side that will have Joe Schmidt calling for improvement when the championship resumes against Wales.
3. Victory has likely come at some cost
While the news on Tadhg Furlong seemed encouraging in the immediate aftermath, and Jack Conan was taken off as a precaution, Robbie Henshaw seems sure to have played his last game of the championship. Having already lost Josh van der Flier, their superb centre missing out would be a hammer blow.
4. All roads still lead to Twickenham
Ireland were hardly likely to have their Grand Slam hopes derailed by the Italians this weekend, but England’s victory over Wales means that the only two unbeaten records in this year’s championship are owned by Joe Schmidt and Eddie Jones. Plenty of water must pass under the bridge before St Patrick’s Day, but the prospect of a mouthwatering tussle between the two remains.
5. Quiet day in store for referee Jackson?
While Wales were beaten by England, to go through the whole 80 minutes of that game conceding only two penalties was remarkable. Under vastly different circumstances, Ireland prompted a blast of Romain Poite’s whistle only three times against Italy earlier on Saturday. The two sides will meet on Dublin on February 23 with Kiwi Glen Jackson the man in charge.
Belfast Telegraph Digital