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Man of the Match David Wallace
Billy Stickland
Ireland Win Turgid Affair In Croke Park
2 February 2010, 11:55 am
By Chris Byrne
Ireland opened the defence of their RBS Six Nations title with a 29-11 win over Italy in Croke Park today.
They led 23-8 at half-time and remarkably only managed to add six points to that total in what could be kindly described as a scrappy shapeless second half.

In truth this game was over as a contest, the result in no doubt by half time and in that second half Ireland never had to rise over the mundane to contain again, in the kindest terms, an average Italian oufit.

In the opening half, Paul O'Connell single-handedly destroyed the Italian line-out, Ronan O'Gara was at his imperious best while Brian O'Driscoll created havoc whenever he got his hands on the ball.

Ireland led 3-0 before O'Gara released Andrew Trimble down the Hogan Stand touchline with a sublime cut-out pass. O'Connell and O'Driscoll kept the move going and when the ball was swept right Jamie Heaslip took David Wallace's pass - albeit forward - to score the opening try.

Italy got on the scoreboard with a Craig Gower penalty in the 25th minute but from the restart were penalisd to allow O'Gara cancel out that score with a 30 metre penalty.

A Tommy Bowe Garryowen take under the Cusack Stand set up the opportunity that led to a try for Tomas O'Leary five minutes from the break but the Italians were offered a slender lifeline when Robert Kearney had his kick blocked down by Kaine Robertson who then touched down to leave his side trailing 23-8 at half-time.

Mirco Bergamasco opened the scoring in the second half with a 44th minute penalty but, just as they'd done in the opening half, Italy conceded the penalty from the restart and once again O'Gara cancelled out the earlier score.

It probably says it all about that second half that we had to wait until the 67th minute for the next and final score, a penalty from Paddy Wallace who had come on as a second half replacement for O'Gara (injured knee).

Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, B O'Driscoll capt, G D'Arcy, A Trimble (K Earls 55 mins); R O'Gara (P Wallace 65 mins), T O'Leary (T O'Leary 73 mins); C Healy, J Flannery (R Best 55 mins), J Hayes (T Court 72 mins); L Cullen, P O'Connell (D Ryan 60 mins); K McLaughin, D Wallace (S O'Brien 72 mins), J Heaslip.

Italy: L McLean; K Robertson, M Bergamasco, G Canale, G Garcia; C Gower, T Tebaldi; S Perugini, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni; C Antonio Del Fava, Q Geldenhuys; J Sole, M Bergamasco, A Zanni. Replacements: F Ongaro, M Aguero, M Bortolami, P Derbyshire, S Piccone, R Bocchino, A Masi.

Referee: Romain Poite (Fr).

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