Ireland 46 Italy 7 match report: Brian O'Driscoll stars as he says farewell to Dublin faithful
Centre dominates as Ireland run riot to close in on the championship
Saturday 08 March 2014
A man-of-the-match performance from Brian O’Driscoll on the day his 140th Test cap set a new world record sent Ireland headed for Paris with the Six Nations title at their mercy.
It was an occasion and contest dominated by the talismanic centre where the seven tries and 46 points racked up by Ireland proved that Italy were merely extras in a clinical performance.
In three games at Aviva Stadium so far in this championship against Scotland, Wales and now Italy the home team have scored 100 points and go to Paris where a victory will earn Ireland only their second championship title since the tournament was increased to six teams.
After this result their points difference of 81 is surely unassailable regardless of what England, Wales or France can achieve in this round of fixtures.
It took just six minutes for O’Driscoll to throw his first dash of class into the mix. A muscular start from Ireland had seen their maul trouble the Italians before the push in the first scrum delivered a sharp shot to the jaw.
With the defence on the back foot Johnny Sexton combined on a wonderful loop with O’Driscoll, who sucked in two tacklers, before returning a no-look pop pass to the fly-half, who steamed towards the Italian line to open the scoring. After that Ireland began to look a little passive in defence which allowed Leonardo Sarto to escape the clutches of Rob Kearney to level the score just before the half hour.
Ireland’s reply was instant with Sexton knocking over a penalty to lead 10-7 on the half hour.
Then O’Driscoll, as he has done throughout his career, sprinkled stardust on the encounter as Ireland attacked inside the Italian 22. With a blue wall closing in around from 10 metres out O’D riscoll dummied the first defender and then produced a pass which was part shovel, part sleight of hand to bamboozle two would-be tacklers and put Andrew Trimble in for Ireland’s second try.
That score knocked the stuffing out of the Italians and with the second half 12 minutes old Cian Healy barged over from a yard out after Eoin Reddan’s quick-tap penalty to put Ireland into a commanding 22-7 lead.
Having set up two tries O’Driscoll was then the inspiration for his side’s fourth.
The centre moved with a balance belying his 35 years and speeding in from the Italian 10-metre line the four-times Lions tourist ghosted inside the shoulder of Robert Barbieri and then offloaded out of Leonardo Ghiraldini’s tackle. From there Rob Kearney and Gordon D’Arcy’s fingertips ensured Sexton would claim his second try.
The floodgates were well and truly open leading Sean Cronin, Fergus McFadden and Jack McGrath all to cross over. All that was left was for O’Driscoll, replaced on 63 minutes to a standing ovation, to salute the crowd after the final whistle. With his final game in Dublin at an end, chants of “one more year” and the tones of The Fields of Athenry rang out around Lansdowne Road as one of the world’s greatest players bowed out with the crowd on their feet.
Next weekend he will depart the Test stage for good, on this from he will be taking some silverware with him.
Ireland: R Kearney; A Trimble, B O’Driscoll (F McFadden, 63), G D’Arcy, D Kearney; J Sexton (P Jackson, 64), C Murray (E Reddan, 17); C Healy (J McGrath, 55), R Best (S Cronin, 55), M Ross (M Moore, 57); D Toner, P O’Connell (capt); I Henderson (R Ruddock, 55), C Henry (J Murphy, 74), J Heaslip.
Italy: L McLean; A Esposito (A Masi, 64), M Campagnaro, G Garcia, L Sarto; L Orquera (T Allan, 64), T Tebaldi (E Gori, 71); A De Marchi (M Rizzo, 57), L Ghiraldini (D Giazzon, 71), M Castrogiovanni (L Cittadini, 7; De Marchi, 71); Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami (A Pavenello, 64), J Furno, P Derbyshire (M Vosawai, 57), R Barbieri
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal joins Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Sami Khedira
Mario Balotelli takes 50 per cent pay cut to join Liverpool as Samuel as Eto’o waits in the wings if deal falls through
Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
Click here for the full story." title="When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Click here for the full story." width="88" height="52" />Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for beauty pageant
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians