Ireland got their Six Nations campaign underway with a hard fought victory over Italy in Rome this afternoon.
The tough victory came as Italy defended resolutely for large periods of the game at the Stadio Olimpico, but lack of discipline by the Italians gave Ireland a 9-3 lead early at half time. Ian Keatley capitalised on the mistakes made by the Italians by kicking three penalties to give Ireland a six point lead at the break. The only positive note of the first half for the Italians came from the boot of Kelly Haimona who kept Italy in touch at the break with a penalty for the home side.
However, in the second half Ireland finally showed their strength to finally break down the Italian defence with both Conor Murray and Tommy O’Donnell touching down in the try zone.
Keatley and Ian Madigan successfully converted the conversions to add gloss to the scoreline.
Ireland now go on to face France in Dublin next weekend, where a much stronger performance will be needed to successfully defend their crown.