Ireland deal with Italy as focus turns to Joey Carbery injury
IRELAND 29, ITALY 10
A comfortable win for Ireland, but at what cost.
Ireland recovered from a slow and shaky start to beat Italy with 19 points to spare but head coach Joe Schmidt will be anxiously awaiting fitness updates on some of his starters, most notably Joey Carbery and Rob Herring.
The early exchanges reeked of pre-season as players from both sides shelled catches and misplaced passes. Jean Kleyn and Rhys Ruddock showed some good physicality and when Joey Carbery hacked upfield, after another Italian error, Dave Kearney looked certain to score the opening try. The Leinster winger could not get a clean take, under pressure, and Italy cleared their lines.
Italy were the first to drive home a scoring opportunity when Maxime Mbanda surged over the tryline after a decent maul and resulting phases were repelled. The hosts were stung awake by that and took the lead through a converted Carbery try after the Munster 10 was put in to score by a sumptuous Chris Farrell pass.
Italy scored next when Carlo Canna dotted down after running through on a Giulio Bisegni grubber. Canna missed his touchline conversion and when Kearney scored in the corner, after some slick Irish passing, the hosts led 14-10:
That Dave Kearney try. Lovely handling from Ireland in the 22 👏👏pic.twitter.com/KvVmwvKbnp
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) August 10, 2019
Jordan Larmour had assisted on Kearney's try and was unselfish again, this time on the opposite wing, when he sucked the last defender in and teed up Andrew Conway for a simple score. Carbery missed the conversion but Ireland were looking in better shape by the break. HALF-TIME: Ireland 19-10 ITALY
The second half began with Luke McGrath and Garry Ringrose linking well and sub Niall Scannell being held up just short of the line. Ireland retained the ball, and attacking threat, and were rewarded when Jordi Murphy hefted over for his side's fourth try.
There was a lull in play as injuries took their toll on both sides, most notably Ireland through Carbery. One substitute that helped his cause no end was Connacht scrum-half Kieran Marmion. His charge down and score put Ireland 29-10 ahead heading into the final 10 minutes.
Here's how we rated Joe Schmidt's men in green:
Jordan Larmour - 7
Italy tested him with some high stuff early on and he did just enough. Was caught covering the left wing and Bisegni took advantage of the space behind to grubber and tee up Canna's try. Enjoyed himself more in the second half as the game got looser.
Andrew Conway - 7.5
A couple of clean breaks, one memorable high-ball take and he stuck the few tackles he was required to make. Was rewarded for sticking to sideline for his try in the first half.
Garry Ringrose - 8
The best Irish back on show. Lovely handling to keep a backline move alive, inside the Italy 22, for Dave Kearney's try in the left-hand corner. Linked up well with Luke McGrath in a move that almost led to a Niall Scannell try. A joy to watch in attack but guilty of falling off a couple of tackles.
Chris Farrell - 7
Tremendous switch pass to Carbery for Ireland's opener (below). Sucked in three and four bodies with his forceful carries. Had Ireland been more ruthless following up at the ruck(s), it could have led to more scores.
Chris Farrell with the silky-smooth handling and Carbery does the rest 🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/OnXcfVlYOg
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) August 10, 2019
Dave Kearney - 6
Angelo Esposito did well to chase back from that Carbery grubber but Kearney will be kicking himself for not scoring an early try. Got over for Ireland's second try of the game after a slick Ireland moved and forced a 5-metre scrum after a strong kick and chase.
Joey Carbery - 7.5
Was enjoying himself out there and getting fan excited to see him in action at the World Cup when injury struck. Improved massively after one dodgy exit attempt from inside his 22. Took a great line for his try and looked to be kicking well off the tee until he missed two from the touchline. Linked up very well in the 10-12 axis with Farrell.
Luke McGrath - 7
His support lines are superb and although he may get knocked back in a few tackles, he always springs up looking for more action.
Jack McGrath - 6
Irish scrum looked good in the first half. Solid if unspectacular from McGrath. Just two carries and he only registered one tackle as he otherwise filled the line and got involved in some ruck clearing.
Rob Herring - 5
Went off after only 16 minutes. In his time on the pitch, Ireland's lineouts were never a lock but at least his dart to Kleyn was claimed, on 16 minutes, before Carbery's try. Was obstructed for Mbanda's try.
Andrew Porter - 7.5
Did his World Cup chances no harm by playing tighthead in the first half and loosehead in the second half. Solid scrummaging and kept himself busy with a few carries in the loose.
Devin Toner - 6
A gentle loosener for Big Dev. Never hit full stride but looked decent enough.
Jean Kleyn - 6
Caught flat-footed out on the left flank (in defence) for that Canna try. Made some bruising smacks in the first half. A decent debut.
Rhys Ruddock - 7
His physicality stood out in the opening half and he carried well as Ireland started to make inroads. Finished with 14 carries and 12 lusty tackles.
Tommy O'Donnell - 7
Looked a bit gassed at stages but kept plugging away and stick tackles (16 of them). Was effective around the breakdown as Ireland sought quick ball in the Italian 22.
Jordi Murphy - 6
Like his team, Murphy got off to a slow start before hitting his straps and finishing strongly. Did not make much ground on most of his 13 carries but, crucially, did enough to get over for a try in the 44th minute.
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) August 10, 2019
Ratings to follow...