Italy v Ireland LIVE: Result and reaction from Six Nations as Ireland battle to victory

Winger Mack Hansen scored a brace of tries as Ireland held off a spirited challenge from hosts Italy in Rome to claim a 34-20 bonus-point victory in the Six Nations and stay on course for a grand slam.

Ireland, who top the Six Nations table with 15 points from three matches, looked as though they would run riot after four tries in the first 35 minutes, with lock James Ryan, full back Hugo Keenan and centre Bundee Aki the other scorers.

Italy took the game to their much-vaunted visitors though and ran the ball from all positions, sometimes naively, as they scored tries through scrum half Stephen Varney and wing Pierre Bruno, but they could not convert when well-placed in the second half.

Ireland led 24-17 at half time but the game tightened up after the break with Italy fly half Paolo Garbisi superb in controlling the tempo for the home side, who continue to impress in defeat in this year’s competition.

Relive all the action from the Stadio Olimpico below:

Six Nations - Italy vs Ireland


16:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Here we go

16:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

England assemble, ready to take the kick off. After a week of meetings, the Welsh squad gather for a final time, tightly together in their own half.

Owen Williams is on starters duties - here we go!

Match Officials

16:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)ARs: Andrew Brace (IRFU) & Pierre Brousset (FFR)TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

16:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

In a week that it seemed like we may not hear it at all, that’s an awfully pleasing singing of “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, rising and dipping with the sweetest of sounds until a crescendo to draw the goosebumps.

The Principality is packed to the rafters, and England are in town - it’s a special Welsh day.


16:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Plenty of travelling English supporters make themselves known by accompanying “God Save the King”, heard for the first time in an away Six Nations fixture. The visitors’ players bounce along to the final notes - they look up for this.

Wales vs England

16:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Before kick off, a period of silence in solidarity with the people of Ukraine a year on from Russia’s invasion.

Wales vs England

16:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The rest of the crowd are warmed now as the flamethrowers blow by the touchline. The fireworks fly to welcome the players to the pitch, England all energetic before gathering in their line, the Welsh squad limbering up with a stretch or two before draping arms across shoulders.

Wales vs England

16:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The sun is out, too, making it a rather pleasant Cardiff evening with the roof open. Those towards the top of the stand on the city centre side of the ground are being warmed by the February rays - no inclement conditions to worry either side, though we aren’t necessarily expecting too much of extravagance given the state of these two sides and the importance of the fixture.

Wales vs England

16:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The England players have disappeared down the tunnel, followed soon after by the Welsh squad. Cardiff has been lively all day, with a throng of people lining the streets from the Principality Stadium up past Cardiff Castle. After a chaotic fortnight, there was an optimistic air to Welsh voices this morning - will all of that pent-up frustration translate into an improved performance on the field?

Alex Dombrandt urges England to silence Cardiff crowd

16:29 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Alex Dombrandt insists England must silence the Principality Stadium crowd if they are to register a first win in Cardiff for six years.

Wales are hoping to recover from heavy defeats by Ireland and Scotland while Steve Borthwick aims to take another step forward in his back-to-basics approach after Italy were dismantled in round two.

It is a pivotal fixture that has the potential to break either side’s Six Nations and former Cardiff Metropolitan University student Dombrandt knows the impact home fans will have on Warren Gatland’s men.

When asked if England planned to silence the crowd, the Harlequins number eight replied: “Definitely. If we can have a good start and get on top early, you never know – the crowd might grow quiet.

“When Wales are on top, the atmosphere can be loud. If the crowd are quiet or not as loud as they usually are, then it means you’re usually doing something right.

“So the more we can nullify their threats and be on top, you’d like to think maybe they’ll be a bit quieter. I have experienced what it’s like on a match day in Cardiff – it’s crazy, it’s carnage – and these are the games you want to be involved in. The atmosphere is going to be electric, it’s going to be loud.


Team News - England

16:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Steve Borthwick, meanwhile, looks for continuity – the England head coach makes only one enforced change to the starting XV that beat Italy. That is on the wing, where Anthony Watson is an England starter for the first time in two years with Ollie Hassell-Collins suffering an injury blow. That much talked about midfield three is Farrell/Lawrence/Slade again.

The bench shows two tweaks: Ben Curry’s rollercoaster tournament continues as the Sale flanker takes a place in the 23 having been jettisoned entirely from training only last Sunday, while a fit-again Courtney Lawes might be influential as Borthwick hopes to avoid a repeat of the final-quarter woes that so irked the head coach against Italy.

England XV: Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum; Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Alex Dombrandt; Jack van Poortvliet, Owen Farrell; Anthony Watson, Ollie Lawrence, Henry Slade, Max Malins; Freddie Steward.

Replacements: Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Ben Curry; Alex Mitchell, Marcus Smith, Henry Arundell.

Team News - Wales

16:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s another week of major changes for Wales as Warren Gatland again spins the selection wheel as he strives for the right balance of faces old and new. Back in to the starting side come Tomas Francis, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau to lend all of their experience to the pack.

The kids, meanwhile, will largely busy themselves in the backs. Louis Rees-Zammit is straight back amongst things from the start on the wing while there is a debut for Mason Grady, a very large 20-year-old but with plenty more to offer at centre. Owen Williams may now be in his thirties but his peculiar career means this is his first Test start.

Wales XV: Gareth Thomas, Ken Owens (capt.), Tomas Francis; Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones; Christ Tshiunza, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau; Tomos Williams, Owen Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, Joe Hawkins, Mason Grady, Josh Adams; Leigh Halfpenny.

Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Daffyd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell; Kieran Hardy, Dan Biggar, Nick Tompkins.

On to Wales against England...

16:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Right, the action never stops on a Six Nations Saturday. The atmosphere is building nicely in Cardiff, with the Principality Stadium starting to fill.

We’ll have plenty more reaction to Ireland’s win over the next couple of days, but now we switch our attention to Wales against England - and what a week of build-up it has been:

It’s game on for Wales – and how England can add to Warren Gatland’s crisis

F/T: Italy 20-34 Ireland

16:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Here’s the try that sealed it for Ireland - supreme patience to work through close to 20 phases and finally strike when the space appeared:

F/T: Italy 20-34 Ireland

16:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Helter-skelter stuff in Rome. Ireland escape with a bonus point win but Italy again showed their threat, pushing another of the big boys mighty close. On another day, and with more accuracy, that big home win will be theirs - this was ever-so-similar to the performance against France, and again they fall just short.


16:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Italy 20-34 Ireland, 83 minutes

16:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Juan Ignacio Brex wins yet another midfield collision, but James Lowe snatches a pass out of the air...

Is the wing away? No, a heroic last-ditch cover tackle to drag Lowe into touch and send things to a close.

Italy 20-34 Ireland, 81 minutes

16:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Juan Ignacio Brex is forced back to scoop up a loose ball. Michele Lamaro is forced further back, behind his own line in fact, but Italy are soon awarded a penalty.

That’ll allow an attack from slightly more advanced territory.

Italy 20-34 Ireland, 80 minutes

16:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Thrown into touch! At least one man over for Ireland, but the handling is inaccurate and James Lowe is left with arms agape some two metres in front of an errant ball.

Italy’s lineout - they could still snatch a losing bonus point, but they’ll have to go 85 metres to do so.

Italy 20-34 Ireland, 78 minutes

16:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Off trots Ross Byrne to warm applause from the travelling supporters - it hasn’t been exclusively good from the fly half, who might have liked to exert a little more control on proceedings, but the Ireland attack has clicked nicely throughout.

Italy are penalised at a breakdown after Bundee Aki is tackled and Jack Crowley’s first involvement with the boot sets up a lineout 15 metres from the Italian line.

Italy 20-34 Ireland, 78 minutes

16:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And Ireland earn a scrum penalty to all but seal it.

Italy 20-34 Ireland, 77 minutes

16:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Knocked on! Italy are just snatching at their chances here, knowing they need to score swiftly to have a hope. That haste manifests itself in some handling inaccuracy - three bodies in the same space with the ball bouncing between them after a knock on.

Italy 20-34 Ireland, 76 minutes

16:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But make a hash of the lineout! A throw to the back doesn’t quite hit the target, and Ireland clear.

Italy battle on, though, and earn a lineout on the opposite side from an intelligently directed toe up the touchline. A converted score here would make things more interesting.

Italy 20-34 Ireland, 74 minutes

16:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

James Lowe puts Ange Capuozzo firmly on his back with a driving tackle, but Bundee Aki’s cry of “stupid!” betrays a rather silly offence from the centre as he looked to make the most of his colleague’s defensive work.

Italy kick to the Ireland five metre...

Italy 20-34 Ireland, 73 minutes

16:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy haven’t totally lost hope. Michele Lamaro’s outstretched arms are ready to embrace an offload but his opposite number gets there first, Josh van der Flier in the right place to prevent what looked a promising position for the hosts.

Paolo Garbisi is off, with a great carrier bag full of ice planted on his shoulder. Tommaso Allan will try to engineer an improbable late comeback.

TRY! Italy 20-34 IRELAND (Mack Hansen try, 72 minutes)

15:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The dam bursts!

Outstanding continuity from Ireland, biding their time to wait for a gap to appear. Caelan Doris wins the gainline decisively, and Conor Murray extends his arms free, teeing up Mack Hansen to scamper around the posts.

Ross Byrne pops through the extra two.

Italy 20-27 Ireland, 69 minutes

15:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Patient play from Ireland, phases 16, 17, 18 and onwards they go...

Italy 20-27 Ireland, 68 minutes

15:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ireland keep things simple, rocking back Italian defenders with forthright carries. Stuart McCloskey picks and drives to make five metres; Conor Murray three more in manner akin.

Mack Hansen does dare to dance, skipping by one defender but swiftly brought down.

Italy 20-27 Ireland, 68 minutes

15:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Was that Italy’s chance? The hosts shoulders just seem to have sagged slightly as they knock on inside their own half.

Another Ireland score would probably kill it. They’ll feed the scrum on halfway.

Italy 20-27 Ireland, 67 minutes

15:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Cries of frustration from the Italian crowd - that looks a chance butchered!

It’s superb to begin with, a delightful inside ball putting new man Giovanni Pettinelli into space.

There’s an overlap, and swift hands look likely to lead to a certain score, but instead the option is to chip across - and Federico Ruzza is aghast as he chases in vain to try and get to it, the lumbering lock not fleet enough of foot to ground before it skips into touch.

Italy 20-27 Ireland, 66 minutes

15:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Conor Murray is brought on for Craig Casey, and Dave Kilcoyne enters in the place of Andrew Porter.

Italy play fast and loose, as they have done all afternoon. Ireland knock an errant Italian pass on.

PENALTY! Italy 20-27 IRELAND (Ross Byrne penalty, 65 minutes)

15:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle

35 metres out, dead centre - simple, straight and true.

Italy 20-24 Ireland, 64 minutes

15:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Penalty to Ireland. Johnny Sexton doesn’t look overly pleased alongside Garry Ringrose in the posh seats, but his understudy Ross Byrne will have opportunity to extend the visitors’ lead from the tee.

Italy 20-24 Ireland, 60 minutes

15:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy battle on, getting back in enough number to defuse a kick from Ireland that appears set to trouble them. A high kick is equally well dealt with.

Michele Lamaro has been at the heart of another impressive Italy performance (Getty Images)
Michele Lamaro has been at the heart of another impressive Italy performance (Getty Images)

Italy 20-24 Ireland, 60 minutes

15:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy certainly won’t die wondering! Off they go from behind their own line, throwing caution (and ball) to the wind with a wide pass.

There barely seems space at all for Juan Ignacio Brex to then release a clearing kick with the Irish defensive line approaching, but the centre does a very good job, finding touch on halfway.

NO TRY! Italy 20-24 Ireland, 59 minutes

15:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

No try - Bundee Aki lost control on the floor!

It had all looked good for Ireland as Aki rose back to his feet to cover the last two yards to the line, but having been dropped to his knees by a low tackle, the centre lost control briefly. The TMO has three or four more looks at it to make sure, but that is pretty evident - a knock on, no try, and an Italian reprieve.

Try? Italy 20-24 Ireland

15:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Sharp handling in the wide confines and Bundee Aki bashes over for his second!

Or does he?...

Italy 20-24 Ireland, 57 minutes

15:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This feels very much like the Italy-France game so far - hoping to avoid the sort of nervy finish that Fabien Galthie’s side endured, Andy Farrell sends for his closers: on come Dan Sheehan and Peter O’Mahony to strengthen the pack.

Sheehan nails his first lineout.

PENALTY! ITALY 20-24 Ireland (Paolo Garbisi penalty, 56 minutes)

15:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Safely pushed between them from left of centre. A clean strike from Paolo Garbisi - Italy narrow the gap.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 54 minutes

15:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Still no score yet in this second half, and there’s not one forthcoming here - Italy are tackled twice behind the gainline and Irish hands scoop back the ball.

Ireland set off on the counter, but are soon called back - a penalty against an angry Andrew Porter, who ghad just leaned into Juan Ignacio Brex to prevent the centre sliding on to a loose ball.

Now we may have those first points of the half - Paolo Garbisi has the tee in his hands and is eyeing the uprights.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 53 minutes

15:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Eek - Ange Capuozzo runs into Stuart McCloskey’s clothesline, and that’s not very nice at all. Capuozzo was on the outside arc and had the run on the significantly larger centre.

Does this warrant further consultation? Not according to the officials, who are content with just a penalty. That looked quite forceful.

Ryan Baird is on for Ireland as Italy kick up the right touchline.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 52 minutes

15:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Stolen at the front! A telegraphed throw from Ireland at the lineout, but a vital intervention from Italy, Federico Ruzza springing up to bat it back with a big flap of his right paw. Ireland compound the error with a penalty.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 51 minutes

15:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Now there is a penalty advantage for the Ireland attack to work with. And they’ll take the penalty after Mack Hansen is lumberjacked at the thighs, the wing chopped very much in half.

Prodded into the corner.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 50 minutes

15:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Better from Italy, marginally - a free kick rather than a penalty. Ball chucked against laces, and off Ireland go without a thought.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 49 minutes

15:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That was much better from Italy - more intelligent in picking their moments to shoot off the line as Ireland tried to go wide, and beefy enough in the tight to stop their opponents from sucking bodies in. Danilo Fischetti, who has impressed as ever, made several key interventions - the loosehead really is an oustanding all around prop.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 49 minutes

15:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Stout defence of the drive by Italy, and then spread sufficiently to hit Ireland’s carriers two passes out.

Craig Casey is caught up in traffic, slowing ball briefly, but Ireland regather momentum through a neat exchange between Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan.

Tom O’Toole is up-ended, but possession is still with the visitors. It all ends up in a heap as both sets of players look to referee Mike Adamson for guidance - Ireland scrum.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 47 minutes

15:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ross Byrne tasks his forwards with a lineout six metres out.

Italy make a change at prop, unhappy with consecutive scrum infringements against them: Marco Riccioni on, Simone Ferrari removed.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 46 minutes

15:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The Ireland assistant coaches study their laptops as Ireland are granted a scrum inside the Italy half. Craig Casey feeds it and the bursts away to the left as penalty advantage is drawn, Ross Byrne poking in behind.

James Lowe leads the putsuit but takes a tumble over the top of a sliding Paolo Garbisi. Back for the scrum penalty.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 44 minutes

15:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Penalty to Ireland! Both front rows hit the floor, with Italy deemed not to have quite taken the weight on the engage.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 42 minutes

15:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Nearly for Italy! Another leftward surge sees Ireland narrowed, but the ball doesn’t quite go to hand. Italy regather swiftly though and drive over the top of the Ireland ruck - ball unplayable, Italy scrum.

Italy 17-24 Ireland, 41 minutes

15:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The hosts win a second half penalty almost immediately just inside their own half. Paolo Garbisi boots it down to the fringes of the Ireland 22.

Italy 17-24 Ireland

15:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Andy Farrell makes his way back up to the Ireland coaching box, purposefully striding up the stairs. He’ll have mixed feelings about that first half - plenty of good stuff in attack from the championship favourites, but Italy have looked very, very dangerous every time they’ve gone wide.

Back underway in Rome.

H/T: Italy 17-24 Ireland

15:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy have shown all of their flair and flow, though, with number eight Lorenzo Cannone to the fore and a very impressive sight at full tilt with a running start.

H/T: Italy 17-24 Ireland

15:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Phew. Breathless stuff in Rome, end-to-end stuff for most of the half as both sides explored every inch of open acreage that the Stadio Olimpico has to offer. Each side was fluent in attack and a little loose in defence, making for a pulsating game that Ireland have just about edged.

Bundee Aki’s been very impressive on his starting return, creating a couple of scores and adding one of his own.


15:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

TRY! ITALY 17-24 Ireland (Pierre Bruno try, 41 minutes)

15:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Or not! Italy strike on the stroke of the interval!

How’s that for a timely score? Ireland have one more lineout from which to launch an attack, and try to play wide to the left. But Pierre Bruno reads the pull-back play perfectly, shooting out of the line to snatch the ball. He’s soon in sprinter’s stride and picking his spot beneath the crossbar to slide in. Paolo Garbisi converts - Italy are far from out of this.

Italy 10-24 Ireland, 39 minutes

15:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There’s Garbisi again, shifting his feet to create the time to put Ange Capuozzo into a hole. Capuozzo looks to put those divine hips to work, shimmying and shaking but failing to recognise the threat of the retreating defender behind him, who jolts the electric full back to floor.

But Italy turn the ball over and Ireland are back on the attack. James Lowe makes metres, and Mack Hansen injects himself into the line off his wing, trying to fend away Federico Ruzza but in the process losing control of the ball. That might just about do us for the first 40.

Italy 10-24 Ireland, 37 minutes

15:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Finlay Bealham’s race is run - the prop battled on for a couple more minutes but takes a seat with a grimace after being withdrawn. Tom O’Toole into the fray after a properly impressive showing off the bench against France.

Can Italy find another score before half time? They’ll certainly have a go, Paolo Garbisi again showing his range of skills as he orchestrates a series of phases on halfway.

TRY! Italy 10-24 IRELAND (Mack Hansen try, 36 minutes)

14:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There’s the bonus point try!

A little bit of variation is all that is required to create space in the Italian defence. Jack Conan feigns a carry to the left and then rushes to the right, taking a pop pass from Craig Casey to challenge the blindside with support. The defenders get dragged in trying to halt the number eight, meaning there is room for Mack Hansen to knife into the corner a phase later.

Ross Byrne’s conversion is...wide to the right.

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 35 minutes

14:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Route one from Ireland, bashing on the front door. Pick and go, pick and go, pick and go, and finally wider one, with a pod of forwards sent forth by Craig Casey.

Italy are offside again. Another penalty to Ireland - same approach, with Kelleher off the floor and running.

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 34 minutes

14:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It looks like Bealham’s knee that is causing the bother - out comes the black tape to strap it up, wrapping round his the girth of his lower thigh to support the joint.

Ronan Kelleher puts the ball on the floor and taps swiftly...

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 33 minutes

14:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Sharp attack from Ireland, Italy up too soon and penalised for offside as they just about prevent Stuart McCloskey releasing what would have been a try-scoring offload.

Finlay Bealham stayed down after pivoting away a pass in that movement - it looks a painful one for the prop, clasping at his shin or ankle. Tom O’Toole is readied as Ireland mull their options with the penalty five metres out.

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 32 minutes

14:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A rare kick in phase play from Italy, Paolo Garbisi seeking territory beyond James Lowe up the middle, but he hasn’t quite communicated the plan to his forwards, who all advance from offside positions to negate the attempt.

Ireland return to Italy 22.

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 31 minutes

14:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Giacomo Nicotera took a blow to the head in that defensive set - he departs for a head injury assessment, with Luca Bigi on in the heart of the Italy front row.

His first job will be throwing a lineout near halfway.

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 31 minutes

14:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Strong defence from Italy! Ireland load up their carriers to make the dents, Stuart McCloskey first on the charge and then another after him. Danilo Fischetti rocks him back with a stern shot to the sternum, keeping his legs pumping to drive him back further.

Josh van der Flier then gets in the way of a roaming Andrew Porter - penalty to the hosts.

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 30 minutes

14:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This could go either way - Cannone hasn’t changed his line but there does appear to be a slight dip towards Craig Casey. He might argue he was simply bracing for impending contact, but how will the officials view it?

Penalty only. That’s a slight surprise, actually - if the action was deemed illegal, there looked to be contact to the head or neck area.

Anyway, Ireland punt to ten metres out.

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 28 minutes

14:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A helter-skelter half-hour continues. Italy turn the ball over twice in quick succession, Craig Casey snatching the ball out of the side of a ruck after it had been deemed out by the referee - and, ooh, that looks slightly nasty from Niccolo Cannone, directing a shoulder towards the dimunitive scrum-half’s head after he’d kicked ahead.

The TMO will have a look...

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 26 minutes

14:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Finlay Bealham seems perplexed by Mike Adamson’s decision, but the Irish tighthead does seem to put too much weight on too soon. He’s pinged - Italy kick up again into good attacking position.

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 25 minutes

14:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy’s lineout ball 35 metres out from their own line, then, and Irish disrupting hands get to it - but only succeed in knocking it on.

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 24 minutes

14:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Out the back, out the back but few supporting players, and Italy are snuffed out on first phase. Caelan Doris pounces on a loose ball, and James Lowe gets a chance to make amends - theat’s one heck of a long punt from the wing, releasing all of the frustration of that error.

Italy 10-19 Ireland, 22 minutes

14:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

At some point this game will settle down, I’m sure, but not quite yet - James Lowe picks a spot in the tenth row far up the left touchline as Craig Casey fizzes a pass back to him, but Lowe takes his eye off the ball and shells the pass. Italy scrum five out from the Irish line with a chance to strike back.

TRY! Italy 10-19 IRELAND (Bundee Aki try, 21 minutes)

14:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

To breaks in the lead up to tries and now Bundee Aki has a score of his own!

For as good as the Italian attack has been so far, their defensive structures are really struggling to combat Ireland’s fluency. Ross Byrne puts Josh van der Flier in to a sliver of space and the flanker survives contact to combine with James Lowe.

Lowe pops a pass back inside to Aki, who rides a tackler to the line, securely grounding with one hand in a manner that Lowe did not early.

Italy 10-12 Ireland, 19 minutes

14:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy really do fancy this. Another foray from their own 22 shows space apparent, but Irish hands wrap around a loose offload...

PENALTY! ITALY 10-12 Ireland (Paolo Garbisi penalty, 19 minutes)

14:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A fluent swing of the left boot from the Italy fly-half, tucking the kick from left of centre just inside the right-hand post.

Italy 7-12 Ireland, 17 minutes

14:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Every time Italy go through the hands they look a threat, with Ireland struggling to handle their strike runners.

To illustrate the point, Tommaso Menoncello absolutely scorches a trail around Ross Byrne, chipping over Mack Hansen as he reaches full flow. Craig Casey gets back to the bouncing ball first - but only thanks to a nudge from Hansen on Menoncello. The Ireland wing is penalised.

Points or corner? Michele Lamaro gestures towards the uprights...

Italy 7-12 Ireland, 15 minutes

14:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Still little sign of the contest settling down, with Italy bringing to an end the first sustained period of kick tennis with a rightward exploration of space.

Back to the left, and Pierre Bruno has to stall to take a wide miss ball. He kicks up the touchline into Ross Byrne’s grasp, and the Ireland fly-half imposes calm with a punt to touch from the safe embrace of his own 22.

TRY! Italy 7-12 IRELAND (Hugo Keenan try, 14 minutes)

14:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s like a basketball game!

Anything Italy can do...

Superb handling from Ireland at the line, Ross Byrne finding Mack Hansen out the back of Stuart McCloskey, with Bundee Aki then taking the wing’s pass to burst open the fissure.

Hugo Keenan should be handled by the backfield defence but wriggles free to complete the score.

Italy 7-5 Ireland, 13 minutes

14:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This is a properly fun start from Italy. The variation in their attack is always brilliant, but they are asking different questions at every possibility today, this time Pierre Bruno collecting a deft chip out to the left. He and Ange Capuozzo are just about smothered into touch, though.

Italy 7-5 Ireland, 12 minutes

14:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ireland manage to disrupt Italian lineout ball, forcing a scrambling Stephen Varney into a slightly hurried kick that rebounds of Irish limbs into touch. Another throw for Giacomo Nicotera just inside his own ten-metre line.

Italy 7-5 Ireland, 10 minutes

14:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A penalty to Italy as they again test the Irish wide defence. Midfield lineout, and off the top they go...

Lorenzo Cannone again! Another magnificent break in the wide channel from the number eight, putting his foot down to accelerate on an unders line to power through a soft shoulder. He’s hauled down and it all comes a-cropper, though - should he have given it to three waiting teammates out side him?

Still, Italy have shown their attacking acumen already - Ireland look very, very vulnerable in the thirteen channel, where they were forced to make a late change yesterday.

TRY! ITALY 7-5 Ireland (Stephen Varney try, 8 minutes)

14:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

How about that for an answer? Brilliant from Italy!

Delicious work in phase play from the hosts, drawing an advvantage. A lovely wide pass across the face takes out three Irish defenders and affords Lorenzo Cannone the space to hurry away.

The number eight dummies and dummies again, giving a biff to the last defender to ensure quick ball as he is felled two metres out. Stephen Varney picks and snipes into the space adjacent - over goes the scrum half, with Paolo Garbisi’s conversion pushing Italy in front.

Italy 0-5 Ireland, 6 minutes

14:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

All a little over eager from the Italians as they sweep to the left, Pierre Bruno well held in a wide one-on-one tackle and then the ball spilled.

Ireland clear up to halfway and back Italy will come.

Italy 0-5 Ireland, 5 minutes

14:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Not the start that Kieran Crowley would have wanted from his Italian side, who really must fix their opening quarter issues. Ireland make a hash of the restart claim, granting the hosts an attacking scrum - which goes down. Free kick to Italy and they tap quickly...

TRY! Italy 0-5 IRELAND (James Ryan try, 3 minutes)

14:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There will be no ruling that one out!

No slow start for Ireland - this has been a sensational start. They cut Italy to shreds for a second time up the left, Bundee Aki bulkily busting between a pair of defenders and offloading to James Lowe outside him.

Lowe’s hands are more secure this time, flicking inwards to his captain, and James Ryan canters in and slides over.

NO TRY! Italy 0-0 Ireland, 2 minute

14:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Well well well - it’s a long old check from the officials with James Lowe’s fingertips seeming to just be on the ball as he slams it into the in-goal area, but further inspection and Mike Adamson rules it out.

A chance missed. Fine work from Ange Capuozzo to hustle back and be a bother, forcing Lowe’s error.

Try? Italy 0-0 Ireland, 2 minutes

14:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A scintillating move from Ireland up the left but James Lowe’s face might tell the story - the frustrated look of the wing suggests he may not have grounded cleanly...

Italy 0-0 Ireland, 1 minute

14:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Nearly an early disaster for Italy, who have had some woes exiting during this tournament. The first attempted clearance is charged down, spinning just about into Italian hands to allow for a more complete kick upfield.


14:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy vs Ireland is underway.

Italy vs Ireland

14:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Firm words in the the final Irish huddle from Ross Byrne, delivering the key messages in Johnny Sexton’s stead.

The Ireland fly half will get the action underway.

Match Officials

14:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)ARs: Wayne Barnes (RFU) & Craig Evans (WRU)TMO: Marius Jonker (SARU)

Italy vs Ireland: Anthems

14:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

My word - the Irish players look mighty confused by a slightly odd, non-traditional arrangement of “Ireland’s Call” that crawls along. How peculiar.

“Il Canto degli Italiani” is far more familiar - and delivered it typically rousing style.

Italy vs Ireland

14:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Up the steps and out into the afternoon come Ireland, James Ryan leading the way, Craig Casey with a shuffle left and right to warm the ankles.

Michele Lamaro heads the Italian line, out to a healthy roar from the crowd.

A charming Rome day

13:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There is some rain forecast in Rome later but, for now, it’s a very pleasant early spring afternoon in the Italian capital. The crowd looked slightly disappointing for their tournament opener against France but Six Nations executives felt that was somewhat down to it being held on a Sunday - the television audience was very, very good, I’m told. Hopefully there will be a lively atmosphere today with the potential Grand Slammers in town.

Ireland plan to ‘rough up’ Ange Capuozzo

13:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There was a crackle and a fizz of anticipation every time Ange Capuozzo got the ball at Twickenham two weeks ago, and the young full back managed to cut England open a couple of times even with reasonably limited opportunities. While the attention on Capuozzo does mean the development of some of his backline colleagues has been slightly overlooked, he is such a threat in open space, and Ireland have come armed with a plan to counter him.

“He’s an eyes-up player so I think if we can get our hands on him and rough him up a bit that would help us,” Mack Hansen said this week of how the visitors will try to handle the 23-year-old.

“He’s not the world’s biggest player but he’s so quick that we’re probably going to have hunt in threes to take care of him.

“But when it comes to it, we’re going to have to focus on every player in that backline as well – they’re all super-quick whippets.”

Mack Hansen urges Ireland to ‘rough up’ Italy’s Ange Capuozzo to stop him

Italy’s own midfield changes

13:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy also have a new 10-12 axis, and while Paolo Garbisi’s return is pleasing news for Kieran Crowley, the head coach’s selection of Tommaso Menoncello in the centres is much more intriguing. The young back has been on the wing for the first two rounds of the championship but sees his future in midfield, where his blend of physical traits and defensive nous should make him an ideal fit. During his brief stint at Benneton, former England defence coach Paul Gustard described Menoncello as one of the five best young players he had ever worked with, which speaks to the 20-year-old’s talent.

He partners his Treviso colleague Juan Ignacio Brex, quietly having another impressive Six Nations. The pair have performed well for Benneton for the last 18 months or so and should test that changed Irish centre partnership.

Will Ireland’s attack change without key playmakers?

13:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There is a good chance that Ross Byrne might have started this game even if Johnny Sexton had been fully fit, and this should be a good challenge for Sexton’s club understudy. Both he and Craig Casey were impressive in imprinting their own particular style on Ireland’s patterns to see out the win against France – Byrne’s varied kicking game should test Italy’s back three.

The 27-year-old might have liked to have Garry Ringrose alongside him, given how important a cog the centre is in linking everything together both for club and country, but a beefy midfield of Bundee Aki and Stuart McCloskey only adds to Ireland’s carrying threat. Could we see a slightly tweaked approach in phase play?

Team News – Ireland

13:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ireland may be well placed to continue their Grand Slam chase, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been plenty of bumps in the road to navigate over during the course of this tournament. Tadhg Beirne was lost for the rest of the tournament in the exertions of achieving victory over France, while Johnny Sexton and Garry Ringrose are also missing – the centre withdrawn only yesterday.

With Sexton absent, there will of course be plenty of focus on how Ross Byrne fills his Leinster teammate’s ten shirt after an impressive supporting role against the French. Craig Casey is in to the starting side, too, while Caelan Doris shifts to six to accommodate Jack Conan in the back row.

Ireland XV: Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Finlay Bealham; Iain Henderson, James Ryan (capt.); Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan; Craig Casey, Ross Byrne; James Lowe, Bundee Aki, Stuart McCloskey, Mack Hansen; Hugo Keenan.

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Dave Kilcoyne, Tom O’Toole, Ryan Baird, Peter O’Mahony; Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Jimmy O’Brien.

Team News – Italy

13:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A handful of alterations for Italy, who are boosted by the return of Paolo Garbisi at fly-half. The young ten had only a watching brief for the first two rounds but is fit to take his place in a remodelled midfield also now containing Tommaso Menoncello – he and partner Juan Ignacio Brex have done plenty of fun things for Benetton this season.

Simone Ferrari steps in for Marco Riccioni in the front row, while the bench is tweaked, too as Kieran Crowley strays from a six-two split to a more conventional five-three.

Italy XV: Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Simone Ferrari; Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza; Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro (capt.), Lorenzo Cannone; Stephen Varney, Paolo Garbisi; Pierre Bruno, Tommaso Menoncello, Juan Ignacio Brex, Edoardo Padovani; Ange Capuozzo.

Replacements: Luca Bigi, Federico Zani, Marco Riccioni, Edoardo Iachizzi, Giovanni Pettinelli; Alessandro Fusco, Luca Morisi, Tommaso Allan.

Italy vs Ireland - team news

13:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Right, kick off in Rome is less than an hour away, so let’s take a closer look at those two sides and some key areas worth watching this afternoon...

Italy vs Ireland

13:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ireland continue their pursuit of the Guinness Six Nations title by taking on Italy in Rome.

Andy Farrell’s men head to Stadio Olimpico on the back of convincing bonus-point wins over Wales and France.

Here, the Press Association pick out some of the main talking points ahead of Saturday afternoon’s round-three clash.

Six Nations talking points: Ireland pair handed big chance against Italy

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