Ireland – 54
Italy – 7
It was a return to the place of Ireland’s most historic victory for Joe Schmidt and his men. Soldier Field, the ground where Ireland triumphed over the All Blacks two years ago, for the first time in 112 years. This time around, it was a much changed lineup, against an all too familiar side. Conor O’Shea’s Italy. A game that was unlikely to produce the same emotion as that infamous win, but nonetheless, some positives for Schmidt and his team to take back to Ireland. Leinster man Jordan Larmour, dazzling from full back, scoring three tries along the way.
Jordan Larmour Delight
It was a first test start for youngster Jordan Larmour tonight, in place of the regular Rob Kearney at fullback. Man of the match on the night, the Leinster man impressed. Beating 12 defenders, one try assist and making 259m along the way to scoring at hat-trick of tries in Chicago. His finger prints were all over Ireland’s victory, and no doubt, his performance has given Schmidt food for thought.
Having not scored in any of his six previous test appearances, Larmour made fools of the Italian defence at times, with his beautiful balance and footwork causing major issues for Conor O’Shea’s men. Larmour eventually crossed the whitewash in the forty-sixth minute, for his first International try before scoring again on the sixty-fourth minute. His third try, after the hooter, perhaps the most impressive of all. Brushing aside five defenders along the way, Larmour raced home from inside his own half to cap a dominant victory for Ireland.
— eir Sport (@eirSport) November 3, 2018
Commenting after the game, Schmidt was impressed by the youngster:
“He certainly finished that last try, that was pretty spectacular. You don’t see that too often in an international with a guy beating the number of players he did”
It was a performance riddled with inaccuracies from Ireland, something that is rarely associated with the Schmidt era. Schmidt described it as a “frustrating” first half, with Ireland only leading by seven points at half time, despite having the more of the opportunities. Ireland started brightly, Jacob Stockdale with a rampaging run straight from kick-off and Garry Ringrose narrowly missing out on a try moments later. Tadhg Beirne gave Ireland their first score after five minutes, picking off some poor Italian defence and burrowing over. Despite the high tempo start, it took almost thirty minutes for the next score. Jordan Larmour finding space before finding Luke McGrath on a support line who touched down for the second try of the evening. Ireland were guilty of playing too much in their own half, and Azzuri captain, Michele Campagnaro, punished this intercepting a poor inside pass, before sprinting clear.
Improved Second Half Performance
It took only 3 minutes for Ireland to score their third try of the evening, Tadhg Beirne notching up his second try of the night. Beirne picking a great line from scrum-half McGrath’s pass to barge over. Ireland were in again 3 minutes later after Larmour intercepted a looping pass from Campagnaro, and sprinted clear untouched for his second of the night.
Ireland’s forward pack dominated from the word go, and they got their just reward in the fifty-sixth minute when hooker Sean Cronin (who replaced Niall Scannell at half-time) barrelled over from a rolling maul. Immaculate from the tee all night, Joey Carbery added the extras. Garry Ringrose got Ireland’s seventh try of the night after some great play between Ross Byrne and Aki set Ringrose away down the touchline. The final try of the night, of course, left to the scintillating Jordan Larmour.
Ross Byrne and Will Addison both debuted off the bench in this emphatic victory. Both players being introduced with twenty minutes left to play. Having toured with the squad on the June tour of Australia, Byrne finally got his shot in the infamous 10 slot, and looked very comfortable at test level. Will Addison, having only signed for Ulster this season, impressed Schmidt enough to earn a spot on the bench. The addition of these players to the squad certainly highlights the strength and depth that is available to Schmidt ahead on Japan next year.
Overall, a positive performance for Schmidt and his men, who will now look ahead to the visit of Argentina to the Aviva Stadium next Saturday.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) November 3, 2018
IRELAND: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Joey Carbery, Luke McGrath; Jack McGrath, Niall Scannell, Andrew Porter; Tadhg Beirne, Quinn Roux; Rhys Ruddock (captain), Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.
ITALY: Luca Sperandio; Mattia Bellini, Michele Campagnaro (captain), Luca Morisi, Giulio Bisegni; Carlo Canna, Tito Tebaldi; Nicola Quaglio, Luca Bigi, Tiziano Pasquali; Marco Fuser, George Fabio Biagi; Johan Meyer, Abraham Steyn, Renato Giammarioli.
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images