DUBLIN: Ireland will lead the Six Nations into the last round after accounting for Italy 50-17 in a deserted Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
The first Six Nations match in more than seven months completed the penultimate round suspended by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ireland will go to France next week needing another bonus-point win to claim a fourth title in six years. But while Ireland leads the championship, England has the easier last matchup, Italy in Rome. England has never lost to Italy, and Italy hasnt won any Six Nations match since 2015.
Ireland spoke respectfully of Italy in the buildup, but made its four-try bonus-point intentions known early when it eschewed penalty kicks to set up attacking lineouts. The strategy worked, as three of Irelands first four tries were launched from lineouts, including the important fourth in the 61st minute.
At that point, Ireland led 31-10, and Irish thinking turned to scoring as much as it could in case points differential becomes decisive next Saturday in the final tally.
The Irish added three more tries to total seven, but a rush to kick off with time up backfired when new Italy flyhalf Paolo Garbisi ghosted through the Irish and touched down between the posts. He converted his try and the Irish would not have been happy with the late concession.
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