Grand Slam holders Ireland huffed and puffed to a comfortable win over an unambitious Italy in a messy Six Nations 2010 opener at Croke Park.
Tries from Jamie Heaslip and Tomas O’Leary put Ireland 23-3 up, but Italy who although never expansive still pressed responded when Kaine Robertson charged down Rob Kearney’s kick to score. Going in to half-time at 23-8
The second half was a dour spectacle as neither side opened up and the game petered out with the only high point Ronan O’Gara having a 100% record with the boot as he landed 16 points.
Both sides will need to improve if they want to fire up this seasons six Nations. Ireland most certainly can go better than the final score of:
Ireland 29-11 Italy
Tries: Heaslip, O’Leary Cons: O’Gara 2 Pens: O’Gara 4, P Wallace
Try: Robertson Pens: Gower, Mirco Bergamasco
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (captain), Gordon D’Arcy, Andrew Trimble, Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Cian Healy, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Leo Cullen, Paul O’Connell, Kevin McLaughlin, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Keith Earls for Trimble (56), Paddy Wallace for O’Gara (65), Eoin Reddan for O’Leary (73), Rory Best for Flannery (56), Sean O’Brien for Hayes (72), Donnacha Ryan for O’Connell (61), Tom Court for David Wallace (72).
Italy: Luke McLean, Kaine Robertson, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco, Craig Gower, Tito Tebaldi; Salvatore Perugini, Leonardo Ghiraldini (captain), Martin Castrogiovanni, Carlo Antonio Del Fava, Quintin Geldenhuys, Josh Sole, Mauro Bergamasco, Alessandro Zanni.
Replacements: Andrea Masi for Robertson (58), Riccardo Bocchino for Gower (65), Simon Picone for Tebaldi (65), Fabio Ongaro for Ghiraldini (72), Matias Aguero for Castrogiovanni (56), Marco Bortolami for Del Fava (49).
Not Used: Derbyshire.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Touch judges: Christophe Berdos & Jerome Garces (France)
TV: Geoff Warren (England)