Six Nations 2023, Italy-Ireland 20-34

Azzurri with their heads held high after the defeat in Rome. Next challenge with Wales

Italy lost at home 34-20 against Ireland in a match on the third day of the Six Nations 2023 rugby tournament, played at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The blues are still without victories in this edition of the tournament, while the greens remain at the top with full points. Italy fights and enjoys it, but Ireland – in goal 5 times – confirms itself as the world’s leading force in rugby. The two tries from Varney and Bruno, once again among the most convincing, are not enough for the Azzurri. Italy returns to the field on 11 March, again at the Olimpico in Rome, against Wales.

THE MATCH – At the first opportunity, Ireland strikes: hole found by Bundee Aki, who escapes Brex’s tackle and paves the way for the green wave. Ball wide on Lowe who fixes the flag, but is held up with a miracle by Capuozzo who prevents the opponent from hitting. The Azzurri save themselves, but give way a minute later: amazing offload from Aki who passes between Menoncello and Padovani and serves Lowe, who this time puts back in for captain James Ryan, who crushes the goal to make it 5-0.

Italy reacted immediately, first earning a free kick in the scrum and putting pressure on their opponents, then opened the field with prolonged action which led to a great charge from Lorenzo Cannone, stopped two meters from the goal line. Ireland, however, was now exposed, and Varney found space for the equalizer, which became an advantage with Garbisi’s conversion. The Azzurri came close to the second goal, again with a splendid break from Lorenzo Cannone on a great ball from Garbisi, but the Azzurri number 8 was tackled again just a step from the goal line and this time he was unable to recycle the ball. On the other hand, however, Ireland doesn’t make discounts: Hansen still opens the way for Aki’s break, the Connacht center serves Keenan who escapes Garbisi’s tackle and flies between the posts for 7-12.

The match was very tight: Capuozzo invents a stupendous opening for Menoncello, who with his legs opens up the space on the open side of the Irish defense, then with a kick over, he puts Keenan in difficulty who manages to arrive early but is forced to stay. We go for the posts, with Garbisi putting in the 10-12. However, when the Irish attack, they are a constant danger: Lowe intercepts a pass from Garbisi, Van der Flier finds the offload for Lowe who immediately puts it back in for Bundee Aki, who puts the icing on the cake at the start of the game with a goal. Byrne transforms for 10-19.

Farrell’s team plays at a crazy pace, subjecting the blue defense to very violent impacts. Italy holds on several times, as long as they can, but gives in in the 36th minute when after yet another exhausting multi-phase effort Casey widens on Keenan, who serves Mack Hansen in the ball for the fourth flag goal. In the most difficult moment, when Ireland seems ready to settle the matter definitively, a careless mistake allows the Azzurri to reopen everything: Aki opens the oval without looking, Pierre Bruno understands everything and intercepts the ball, stares at the center of the posts and crush 17-24.

In the second half, Ireland takes over in an orderly scrum, plays the first 10 minutes in the assault in an attempt to close the game but slams into an amazing Italian defense, which holds on despite the Greens’ actions dilating to 10-15 every time phases. Then in the 52nd minute Ruzza wins a vital touch 5 meters from the blue goal line and saves everything. After the narrow escape, the Azzurri go the other way and shorten the distance with Garbisi’s foot, Ireland tries to respond with a good play by the Connacht couple Hansen-Aki, with the latter already looking forward to the goal but he is disturbed by Niccolò Cannone’s “Francesina”, which causes him to lose the ball forward. Byrne brings him back to +7 from the pitch with a quarter of an hour to go.

The Azzurri came close to equalizing, with an oversized pass from Brex for Ruzza, then Ireland closed the game in the 72nd minute: great play by the new substitute Murray, which allowed Mack Hansen to enter the 22 at full speed Azzurri, Capuozzo can’t do anything and the winger can crush between the posts for 34-20. In the final, the Azzurri push in search of the bonus point, but Farrell’s team crushes them in the 22 and in the end the score doesn’t change. For Ireland, a victory that brings them even closer to winning the tournament, while another encouraging performance arrives for the Azzurri in view of the awaited match against Wales.