"We couldn't see any weaknesses" - Italy coach lauds Irish team
The Italian head coach was singing Ireland's praises.
Italy have looked a side reborn in this year's Six Nations championship, taking France to the buzzer on the opening weekend before a fine second half display at Twickenham a week later.
Saturday's clash in Rome was another showcasing of the exponential improvements made by the Azzurri, as they made the world's number one ranked side sweat before ultimately falling to a 34-20 defeat in Rome.
These strides forward in playing style, albeit not yet delivering results, have seen the Italian's break free of the tag of wooden spoon favourites, and are thanks in large part to head coach Kieran Crowley.
Having beaten both Australia and Samoa last autumn, and with club side Benetton Treviso qualifying for the Challenge Cup knock out rounds, Italian rugby has finally gained an unfamiliar sense of optimism as they look to build towards September's World Cup.
Despite this newfound confidence though, an Ireland side missing a number of key players still managed to claim a 13th successive victory over the Italians this weekend.
Speaking in the aftermath of the game, Italian head coach Kieran Crowley spoke about his side's opposition, saying that "I'll be honest, we couldn't see any weaknesses (in Ireland)".
The 19-time capped All Black also discussed his disappointment in failing to convert promising performances into favourable results, stating that "We're absolutely gutted about that result. They're the number one side in the world but we thought we could give them a crack... We need to get over the line in these games".
Returning the favour, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell praised the passionate Italian display, with the former England defence coach declaring "that was a proper Test match. Italy had a big say, I thought they were very resilient".
Farrell, who has now led Ireland to a tenth consecutive Test victory and on the precipice of just a fourth ever Grand Slam, went on to add that "They cut us open a few times with their attack. To come away with a bonus-point win, we'll take that".
Italy will play host to a struggling Wales side in the penultimate round, knowing that a repeat of last year's victory in Cardiff will likely see them finish above Warren Gatland's men.
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