World Rugby

Ireland Keeps Italy Scoreless To Keep Six Nations Grand Slam Hopes Alive

Ireland Keeps Italy Scoreless To Keep Six Nations Grand Slam Hopes Alive

Here are the postgame highlights from Ireland's 36-0 Six Nations win over Italy. Craig Casey, Jack Crowley, and more shined in this action-packed match.

Feb 11, 2024 by Philip Bendon
Ireland Keeps Italy Scoreless To Keep Six Nations Grand Slam Hopes Alive

Andy Farrell’s Ireland kept its dreams of successive Six Nations Grand Slams alive with a dominant 36-0 victory over Italy on Sunday.

Getting Ireland’s account underway, Munster halfback Craig Casey and Jack Crowley burst down the Italian short side with a nice bit of interplay that saw the fly-half cross for his first international try.

Fifteen minutes later, hooker Dan Sheehan nabbed Ireland’s second score of the first half, as the Irish attack stretched the Italian defense. 

The try itself was a prime example of the highly efficient Irish attacking system, as the team ran several blocker-style plays, before some fancy footwork and an offload from Crowley, and two more passes from Robbie Henshaw and Stuart McCloskey, found Sheehan on the left touchline.

Locking in Ireland’s third try in the 36th minute, No. 8 Jack Conan buried underneath three Italians to get the ball over the line from close range.

Taking all of nine minutes in the second half, Ireland secured its bonus point, with Sheehan grabbing his second try of the afternoon, this time through a well-worked maul.

Six minutes later, Henshaw appeared to score Ireland’s fifth try of the afternoon, before being judged to have been held in the tackle and shuffling his way forward.

Matters would go from bad to worse for the Azzurri, as center Tommaso Menoncello was sent to the sin bin for a trip on James Lowe.

Lowe would be the benefactor of the extra space created by Menoncello’s absence, as he burst through a gap on the left flank, before carrying three Italians over the line with him.

Putting the final exclamation on the performance, Calvin Nash joined his wing partner Lowe in getting over for a try in the 78th minute. For the Munster player, the try was his second in two outings so far in this tournament, as he looks to make the jersey his own in the absence of Mack Hansen and Jimmy O’Brien.

Speaking after the match, Casey clearly pointed out that the team members felt there were several areas they could improve.

"The goal was to get better and show a better performance on the field, and I don't know if we fully did that," Casey said. “There was definitely areas we were happy with, but it's tough to say right now how good we were. We'll look at it during the week and analyze it.”

Turning his attention to his Munster teammate, Crowley, Casey said he was happy he was the one to get the fly-half over for his first international try.

"I'm very happy to assist Jack," Casey added. "He has had a very good start to the campaign. Any chance I get to start for Ireland, but especially with him, is great. He's my roommate this week, as well, so it's been good.”

Highlighting why Farrell is so excited by his potential and work ethic, it was clear Casey was not resting on his laurels.

"I don't think it was perfect, by any means, but I was happy with the composure I showed to bounce back from mistakes," Casey said. “That's one thing I have tried to pride myself on this week. I knew everything wasn't going to be perfect. Italy is a good team, and international rugby is different.

“I'm happy with how I responded to mistakes. Hopefully I showed my hand in some from. I want to keep putting my hand up."

Offering his perspective of the result, Farrell, as ever, was calm and collected in assessing the performance.

"We're happy enough, and we got what we wanted in the game with a bonus-point win," Farrell said. "Keeping them to zero is very pleasing, and there was some nice tries out there and some nice performances by individuals.

"We got a bit clunky in parts, but they are tricky enough to play against. They (Italy) have changed the way they play; they are a little more pragmatic, so you have to find different ways of getting the ball back.

"I thought we were trying to be too tidy at times, just playing with shape when we broke them down with a bit of individual brilliance. We need to back ourselves a little bit more as far as that is concerned. We looked dangerous."

Now heading into a fallow week, both sides will recouperate before their next matches. 

Ireland will host an ever-improving Welsh side that came up one point short against Scotland and two against England in the opening two rounds.

Italy, on the other hand, will face an out-of-sorts France, which will be thanking the TMO gods they escaped Edinburgh with a win in Round 2.

Scoring: 5-0 Crowley try; 10-0 Sheehan try; 12-0 Crowley con; 17-0 Conan try; 19-0 Crowley con; 24-0 Sheehan try; 29-0 Lowe try; 34-0 Nash try; 36-0 Byrne conversion.

Ireland: H Keenan (H Byrne 56), C Nash, R Henshaw (J Larmour 64), S McCloskey, J Lowe, J Crowley, C Casey (J Gibson-Park 73); A Porter (J Loughman 56), D Sheehan (R Kelleher 56), F Bealham (T O’Toole 56), J McCarthy, J Ryan (I Henderson 61), R Baird (J van der Flier 66), C Doris, J Conan 

Italy: A Capuozzo, L Pani (F Mori 58), J I Brex, T Menoncello, M Ioane, P Garbisi, S Varney (M Page-Relo 58); D Fischetti (M Spagnolo 56), G Lucchesi (G Nicotera 56), P Ceccarelli (G Zilocchi 40), N Cannone, F Ruzza, A Izekor, M Zuliani (R Vintcent 70), M Lamaro

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)