Rugby Union: Italians cruise to a vote-winner

Italy 37 Ireland 22
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When the Five Nations Committee votes on Italy's inclusion on 16 January it will have to consider that Ireland have now lost their last three games to the Six Nations wannabes, and have been well beaten at that.

It was another depressing day for the Irish yesterday when they were outclassed by an Italian side who equalled their highest points total against Brian Ashton's team. Cutting loose with three tries in the final quarter of a fractious game dominated by the referee's whistle, Italy were never in danger.

The first half was a fragmented affair in which the two fly-halves, Diego Dominguez and David Humphreys, each landed three penalties to tie the score at 9-9. They traded a further penalty apiece before Dominguez put Italy ahead with a fifth penalty nearing the hour.

After Humphreys was helped off to have five stitches in a facial wound, Italy upped the tempo. Three times the Irish lost possession and three times Italy struck. Dominguez sauntered over after the full-back Corrado Pilat broke through after 67 minutes. Pilat added the second after 72 minutes, before centre Cristian Stoica exploited another gap in the 75th minute.

Ireland responded with a penalty by Eric Elwood, who then cleverly set up a consolation try for Darragh O'Mahony.

Italy: C Pilat (Benetton); P Vaccari (Fly Flot), C Stoica (Narbonne), M Dallan (Benetton), Marcello Cuttita (Milan); D Dominguez (Stade Francais) A Troncon (Benetton); Massimo Cuttita (Harlequins), C Orlandi (Milan), A Castellani (L' Aquila); G Croti (Milan), C Checchinato (Benetton), M Giovanelli (Narbonne), capt), A Sgorlon (Benetton), J Gardner (Benetton). Replacements (used): Arancio, Scanavacca.

Ireland: K Nowlan (St Mary's College); D Hickie (St Mary's Col), K Maggs (Bristol), M McCall (London Irish), D O'Mahony (Moseley); D Humphreys (London Irish), N Hogan (London Irish); R Corrigan (Greystones), K Wood (Harlequins, capt), P Clohessy (Young Munster); P Johns (Saracens), M O'Kelly (London Irish), D Erskine (Sale), D O'Grady (Sale), E Miller (Leicester). Replacements (used): E Elwood, V Costello.

Referee: Mr D Mene (France).