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A sweltering thirty-two degrees welcomed Ireland and Italy to the pitch at Barlow Park in Cairns for the pool C/D game with the blue of Italy being the favourites with the bookies to overcome the conditions and start their World Cup campaign with a victory.


The warm weather policy had been enacted with water breaks after twenty minutes of each half and an extended half time period to give the players more time to take on fluids.


The Irish won the coin toss and elected to take advantage of a strong wind at their backs in the first half.


It was a dream start for Ireland as they opened the scoring after just two minutes when Scott Grix fed Liam Kay to dive over in the left corner and ground one handed. Liam Finn added the conversion from wide on the touchline and before the Italians had any possession they trailed by 6-0. 


The lead was doubled on nine minutes when a deft Michael McIlorum grubber kick was picked up and grounded in goal by George King. It was a far easier conversion for Finn and Ireland were in total control.


Interference at the play the ball on the Italy line gifted the Irish a penalty and Finn accepted the opportunity to extend the lead to 14-0.


Italy steadied the ship and enjoyed more possession and position but made repeated unforced errors in the Irish twenty. It was Ireland who extended their lead just before the half hour with a copy of the opening try as Kay took a Grix pass to go five metres and dive over by the corner flag. Finn again converted brilliantly from the touchline for a 20-0 lead.


Two minutes before the interval and a wayward Grix pass was intercepted by Justin Castellaro who outpaced the Irish chasers to go ninety metres to score under the sticks. Josh Mantellato slotted the conversion between the uprights to give his side a glimmer of hope going into the interval at 20-6.


In the second half Italy had the benefit of the wind that Ireland had used so well in the opening forty. On forty-six Mantellato took a high kick to the corner and offloaded inside to Nathan Milone in the tackle for the centre to take two paces to score. Mantellato kicked the extras and Italy were back in a game which had earlier looked to be beyond them.


After absorbing a massive amount of Italy pressure Ireland turned defence into attack and on fifty-four minutes Kyle Amor crashed over the line off a Michael McIlorum pass for the fourth Irish try of the afternoon. Finn added the extras for 26-12.


On fifty-nine a Scott Grix grubber wrong footed Tedesco and Michael Morgan picked up a low bouncing ball to go over the line and improve the angle for Finn to kick the goal and increase the lead to 32-12 with twenty minutes left on the clock.


With two minutes remaining Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook put the icing on the cake as he waltzed through an exhausted Italy defence to ground from twenty metres. Finn failed to add the extras but it mattered little as Ireland sealed a 36-12 win.


This was a stunning victory for Ireland, against the odds and most pundits pre-match opinions. Italy picked up a number of injuries and this defeat could signal the end of their campaign after just one group match. There were a number of stand out players in green with Kay, McIlorum, Grix and Finn all putting in top drawer performances. 


Ireland: Grix, McDonnell, Chamberlain, Morgan (T), Kay (2T), Pewhairangi, Finn (6G), Singleton, McIlorum, Amor (T), McCarthy-Scarsbrook (T), Roberts, King (T).  Subs: McCarthy, Masson, Philbin, Mullally.


Italy: Tedesco, Cerruto, Castellaro (T), Milone (T), Mantellato (G), Ghetti, Johns, Vaughan, Wilkie, Alvaro, Reithmuller, Minichiello, Brown.  Subs: Santi, Wakeman, Walker, Tramontana.


Referee: Grant Atkins.


Half-Time: 20-6.


Full-Time: 36-12.

 Attendance: .


Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 29th Oct 2017 6:05 AM | Views : 4823 | Replies : 10 | BACK TO STORIES

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World Cup: Quarter Final