Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Tommy Bowe, 22 tries in 46 tests for Ireland

Fly-half Jonathan Sexton delivered a starring display as Ireland bagged their first win of the RBS 6 Nations campaign with a 42-10 win over Italy.

But it was Ulster & Monaghan star Tommy Bowe who scored two tries that had the biggest impact in a facile Irish victory at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The Leinster No. 10 , Sexton, kicked 17 points at the Aviva Stadium as two scores from Tommy Bowe, a Keith Earls try and late efforts from Tom Court and Andrew Trimble halted a run of three consecutive home defeats as Ireland let out their frustrations on the Azzurri.

Italy more than played their part in the clash but after some early promise and a score from skipper Sergio Parisse ultimately their fly-half conundrum cost them.

Scrum-half specialist Tobias Botes won his first cap in the No. 10 jersey but while Sexton kicked seven from eight the Italian managed just two from five to reignite Ireland's campaign after their opening round defeat to Wales and postponed clash with France.

Italy had opportunity to draw first blood after less than two minutes but Botes' penalty slipped wide of the left-hand post after Mike Ross was penalised for not rolling away.

But with memories of his two glaring misses against England coming to the fore Botes settled his nerves after seven minutes with a three-pointer.

Ireland, somewhat forcing the issue in their attempt to hit the ground running, were penalised for not releasing through Sexton and Botes slotted over.

Sexton made amends on the ten-minute mark however when despite nursing a cut to the head he stepped up to make it 3-3 after the Azzurri were penalised for crossing.

Ireland's attacking intentions were underlined when they opted to kick for the corner rather than take a penalty as Italy were off their feet.

And the bold move proved to be the right one when Earls took his hot streak to six tries in four games burrowing over from close range and Sexton's conversion made it 10-3.

Italy wasted two opportunities to reduce the arrears in as many minutes approaching the half-hour mark. First the unlucky Botes saw his penalty attempt come back off the crossbar before a drop goal attempt was sliced well wide.

But the Azzurri got themselves level six minutes before the break when Ireland made a hash of lineout in their own 22. Robert Barbieri went on a charge for the visitors before Botes showed a calmness with the ball in hand that had eluded him with the boot to free skipper Parisse to cross under the posts.

Botes couldn't miss from in front of the posts to make it 10-10 but the home side ensured they went in at half-time seven points to the good with Bowe's 21st score for his country and Sexton's impressive conversion from out wide.

Rob Kearney picked off a pass from his toes in the build up before floating the ball out to Stephen Ferris. The villain of the piece from their opening round defeat against Wales could easily have bundled over but the blindside flanker opted to play it safe to put Bowe in.

The Botes kicking nightmare continued after the break when after Sean O'Brien was penalised for not rolling away the Azzurri fly-half was well off target.

Ferris went close again to redemption before being halted by an Alberto Sgarbi tap tackle but from the resulting scrum Ireland won the penalty which allowed Sexton to make it 20-10.

Just before the hour mark that lead was stretched to 13 points when Sexton made it five successful kicks from five with a penalty.

And the Ireland fly-half was catching the eye again on the hour mark when his perfectly weighted pass freed Bowe for his second score of the afternoon before converting.

With Ireland clear, the game looked to be petering out towards the end with the only incident bringing the home crowd from the seats the arrival of Ronan O'Gara to win a record 118th cap, replacing Gordon D'Arcy.

However Court's first international score stretch the Irish lead before the gloss was put on the win by wing Trimble's breakaway try.
Sexton shanked his final kick of the day from out wide but it took little away from a dominant Irish performance.

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