Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ireland Cut Loose In Rome

Six Nations Game 13 - Italy vs Ireland (24-51)

Italy stole Ireland's first lineout, but the next green throw-in was good. Then Italy turned over Irish ball, made a canter upfield but it went out into touch over the try line.

Soon after, Ireland were making great headway up the field when Sergio Parisse made a massive hit on Girvan Dempsey [left], which had the crowd gasping. Five minutes in, and Ireland were givena a penatly, which Ronan O'Gara duely punted over, 0-3 to the hosts

In the first few minutes, Italy seemed to have control of scrum and lineout, but are prone to giving away penalties. However, Italy were pushing the Irish line through loads of phases. They couldn't be breached, but Ramiro Pez saw his opportunity and dropped a lovely goal to level the score 3-3.

Ireland stole an Italian lineout, Simon Easterby [right] taking off with the ball in the Irish 22, but he was caught holding on. Pez took the points, 6-3.

Sixteen minutes in, Dempsey broke free and went over in the corner for a lovely try. Marco Bortolami didn't stand much of a chance chasing the fullback. O'Gara's conversion from way out wide drifted off course at the last minute, so Ireland just took five points to make it 6-8.

Ireland's scrums weren't going well, but they stole an Italian scrum in Ireland's half, David Wallace [left] turning it over at the back of the scrum. They then ran up the field, passing through several hands before Simon Easterby went over in the opposite corner. O'Gara again missed the conversion, but they were ahead 6-13.

Italy came back straight after, but their attack looked rather predictable. Eventually they got a rolling maul going, Ireland infringed, and Italy had a chance to claw back a few points. Pez did the honours to make it 9-13.

Just before the half hour, Italy had possession but weren't making a lot of progress, Pez was in the pocket and pinged another sweet drop goal to encroach again on Ireland's lead, pinning it back to one point 12-13.

The men in green promptly botched their next lineout and Italy stole the ball. They worked it up field into the Irish half, but Ireland turned them over. Several phases saw the ball move towards the Italian line.

The last few minutes before half time were pretty scrappy from Ireland. Just on the half way, Ireland gave away a penalty, but this time Pez' boot just pushed it wide.

Then Ireland made amends with a break to take Gordon D'Arcy [right] over the line. The replay showed what looked like a forward pass in the immediate phases before, but none of the officials picked it up, so the try was allowed to stand. O'Gara added the points from the boot, and the Irish went in at half time with a 12-20 lead.

In the second half, Ireland's first lineout wasn't straight, and Italy won possession from th scrum. They moved up to the 5m line, when Ireland knocked on, to another scrum was set with the Azzurri to put in. Denis Hickey managed to intercept an Italian pass, and chipped ahead. Blue and green chased, but a blue shirt managed to land on it before green could ground for a try. Ireland gained possession from the restart. They then had a quick tap and go penalty and all of a sudden, Girvan Dempsey was over again just under the posts. O'Gara slotted the points and Ireland began to turn the screw, making it 12-27. They needed points badly to have any chance of winning the championship.

Around fifty minutes, there was a lovely Irish chip ahead, but Brian O'Driscoll [left] knocked on inches from the line. Italy secured their scrum ball and cleared to touch. Ireland won the lineout, spun it out wide, and cut loose sending Shane Horgan over in the corner. O'Gara's boot sent it wide, making the score 12-32.

Then the forwards had a go, mauling to the line. They came up just short but shipped it out to the backs, Denis Hickey going out wide for Ireland's sixth try. O'Gara's conversion just shaded through the posts.

Ireland had a scrum put in close to their own line, they won ball and the centres broke free, flying up the pitch. A kick ahead was chased by Ronan O'Gara [right] who grounded it confidently and promptly converted it too, to make it 12-46. Brian O'Driscoll limped off with 20 minutes to go, but his team were looking like romping away and setting a huge score for France to chase in Paris, if they want to win the Championship.

The Italians slowed their haemerage of points a little, and kept possession for some minutes, frustrating Irish attempts at cutting loose any more. Then, with five minutes to go, Captain Marco Bortolami [left] took a high cross-field kick and just crashed over the line for a late Italian consolation try. Scanavacca's kick just went wide, leaving the score at 17-46.

With just three minutes left, Denis Hickey cut loose and scored Ireland's 8th try. O'Gara failed to convert again, so the score stood at 17-51. D'Arcy was named Man of the Match. Even as the clock went into the red, Ireland kept the ball alive and were going for another score, with three tap and go penalties being allowed, two for Ireland and one for Italy. Roland de Marigny manged to go over in the last seconds, the decision went to the Video ref as it looked like a double movement. It was allowed, after several reruns to deliberate. Scanavacca added the two points with the boot and Jonathan Kaplan blew up for full time, 24-51.

That gave France a target of 24 points to chase for the Champoinship.

Or, read my ten word review.

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