Impressive Ireland thrash Italy in Dublin

Malcolm O'Kelly praised former Ireland and London Irish teammate Conor O'Shea

Malcolm O'Kelly praised former Ireland and London Irish teammate Conor O'Shea

Ireland racked up eight tries against the woeful visitors, with the bonus point wrapped up by the 35th minutes.

Robbie Henshaw and Jacob Stockdale scored a brace of tries apiece but the former was one of two costly injuries - prop Tadhg Furlong the other - to the hosts, landing heavily on his shoulder in his second touchdown and having to have oxygen administered.

"I thought his chase-down was sensational".

"Obviously there is a certain expectation of the French national team to play a certain way - "combat" as they call it".

Of course, the negatives at the tail end are all out-weighed by a comprehensive win brought about by Ireland's insistance on dominating possession and running from deep.

Ireland are hot favourites to win but with the Six Nations expected to go down to the wire, earning a bonus point for scoring four tries is a must - particularly given England did against the Azzurri last week.

"It was good at times, we started well, got a few scores early on", Earls said of the win.

"I felt we scored some really good tries in that first 40 minutes and I was pleased to keep them to nil, when they showed in the second half how good an attacking side they are". We got a little passive defensively in those last 20 minutes.

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"So we're disappointed with that, but we also see it as a reference point reference point for those newer players to say: "here, have a look at the level and get some learnings from it".

Italy captain Sergio Parisse believes Ireland "play much better rugby" than England, assessing the two most-fancied teams in the tournament after Italy lost to both in their opening matches.

Should Italy suffer another heavy defeat on Saturday it will raise more questions as to whether Georgia should replace them in the Six Nations.

"We've asked ourselves, "how much do we watch from November", with a different coaching group", said Townsend.

"Ireland are a great side and when they play under pressure they are very good and when they play without pressure, they are awesome", said Parisse. "I think they play better than England".

"We will be stressing them with whatever rugby we play, and we'll make sure that they are working harder than they have ever worked before, and that is where we can have the advantage".

That effusive praise was put to Rory Best, who was among Ireland's eight try-scorers, however the hooker was wary of getting drawn in to premature build-up for the would-be Grand Slam decider.

"We'll know more after his scan tomorrow.He looked in a fair bit of discomfort when he came off but he was more comfortable later on", head coach Schmidt said.

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