Ireland see off Italy
Tries from Bowe, Earls, Court and Trimble seal victory
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 25/02/12 4:43pm
Ireland got their RBS Six Nations challenge back on track with a bruising 42-10 victory over Italy in Dublin.
Ireland had lost their opening game in the championship to Wales in controversial fashion, while their game against France was postponed at the 11th hour.
And although they will be pleased to have seen off the challenge of the Azzurri they will not be happy with their performance during the opening period.
The Italians were able to dictate for long periods of the first half but they lacked a fly-half able to punish them, with Tobias Botes too erratic.
And Ireland turned on the style in the second half to leave the fans in Dublin happy.
Sergio Parisse did cross for a well-deserved try for Italy, while Botes added a penalty and a conversion.
Ireland, though, scored tries through Keith Earls, Tommy Bowe (2), Tom Court and Andrew Trimble, while Jonathan Sexton added 17 points with the boot.
Having missed an earlier effort, Botes, who was making his first start, had kicked Italy into a seventh-minute lead but that was as good as it got for the visitors.
Sexton levelled the scores three minutes later and then added the extras when Earls had crashed over. Having opt to go for the corner from a penalty, Ireland patiently went through the phases before Earls scooted through.
Botes missed another penalty and a woeful drop-goal effort but he was able to convert five minutes before the break when Parisse crossed for a simple try after the Italians had stretched the Irish defence.
Ireland, though, restored the lead - with once again their adventure of kicking to the corner from a penalty paying dividends. Quick recycling and even quicker ball found Bowe in acres of space to score. Sexton's conversion made it 17-10 at the break.
Italy had a chance to hit back at the start of the second half, but Botes was well wide with his penalty attempt - and Ireland made them pay as Sexton slotted over from close range.
The lead was extended to 13 points on the hour as Ireland turned the screw.
And their pressure was rewarded with a second try for Bowe, the winger going in unopposed on the right after the Italian defence had been pulled in. Sexton converted to make in 30-10.
With the game won, Ireland rung the changes - with Ronan O'Gara coming on to become his country's record cap holder.
However Sexton kept the kicking duties and he slotted over the extras after Court had burrowed over from close range in the dying minutes.
And to rub the salt into the wounds, Trimble broke away down the left wing to score a breakaway try.