Ragged, disjointed, ill-disciplined and ignominious finale for Ireland
Skies blue for Italy as they affirm their veryreal advances in Six Nations championship
Italy’s Edoardo Gori claims a high ball ahead of Ireland’s Devin Toner during the Six Nations match at Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Date: 16 March, 2013
Venue: Stadio Olimpico
However, that was as good as it got as Ireland again repeatedly fell foul of Barnes, who for the second time penalised them 13 times (Ireland’s rap sheet is 39 penalties and five yellow cards in the three games refereed by Poite and Barnes, with 20 and no penalties in the other two). Their discipline fell away, it has to be said, and they were even briefly reduced to 13 when Conor Murray joined Donnacha Ryan in the bin for off-the-ball offences.
The lineout was again an Achilles heel, coughing up three attacking throws in the first half and four out of nine in total. A couple were legitimate steals though it was surprising that the ever-willing Ryan called one on himself just after Devin Toner joined the fray. But a couple were again bad throws by Best.
The scrum too was in trouble, though one seven-man effort featuring a tight five comprised entirely of replacements actually held up, but the breakdown work was sluggish and lacked intensity, ensuring a preponderance of slow ball for Conor Murray. This was compounded by Jackson often dropping too deep, even if managing the game is such circumstances was a huge ask on his third Test. Ironically, his place-kicking is the aspect of his game which has shone through in the last two games, but there has been nothing of the same threat on the gain line since Murrayfield.
When Paul Marshall made a late entrance, he became Ireland’s 10th debutant in seven Tests this season, and the 33rd player to be used in this Six Nations alone. Ireland don’t have 33 players of true Test quality. Most probably never have done, nor never will do.
Along with O’Driscoll, again one couldn’t fault the effort of them all and Seán O’Brien in particular, while Madigan’s willingness to attack the gainline was one of the few bright sparks. But overall this was a ragged, disjointed, ill-disciplined and wasteful kicking game.
ITALY: A Masi (Wasps); G Venditti (Zebre), G Canale (St Rochelais), G Garcia (Zebre), L McLean (Treviso); L Orquera (Zebre), E Gori (Treviso); A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro), L Ghiraldini (Treviso), L Cittadini (Treviso), Q Geldenhuys (Zebre), J Furno (Narbonne), A Zanni (Treviso), S Favaro (Treviso), S Parisse (St Francais) (capt). Replacements: F Minto (Treviso) for Furno, P Derbyshire (Treviso) for Favaro (both 58 mins), M Rizzo (Treviso) for Lo Cicero (64 mins), A Pavanello (Treviso) for Geldenhuys (65 mins), T Benvenuti (Treviso) for Masi (66 mins), D Giazzon (Zebre) for Ghiraldini, A de Marchi (Treviso) for Cittadini, T Botes (Treviso) for Gori (all 75 mins).
Sin-binned: Parisse (52-62 mins).
IRELAND: R Kearney (Leinster); C Gilroy (Ulster), B O’Driscoll (Leinster), L Marshall (Ulster), K Earls (Munster); P Jackson (Ulster), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross Leinster), Mike McCarthy (Connacht), D Ryan (Munster), P O’Mahony (Munster), S O’Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster) (capt). Replacements: L Fitzgerald (Leinster) for Earls (25 mins), I Madigan (Leinster) for L Marshall (28 mins), I Henderson (Ulster) for Fitzgerald (37 mins), D Toner (Leinster) for McCarthy (64 mins), S Archer (Munster) for Ross (67 mins), S Cronin (Leinster) for Best, D Kilcoyne (Munster) for Healy (both 70 mins), P Marshall (Ulster) for Ryan (80 mins).
Sin-binned: O’Driscoll (30-40 mins), Ryan (69-79 mins), Murray (80 mins).
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England