Ireland player ratings
Published 10/03/2014 | 02:30
Topped the metres carried charts yet again and is looking more dangerous with ball in hand each time he plays. The missed tackle on Leonardo Sarto for Italy's try was the only black mark.
Making himself harder and harder to drop with each performance, the Ulster man's redemption Six Nations continued with a try-scoring, hard-running performance.
The man of the hour treated his adoring public to an exhibition of all that made him great. His array of passing laid on three tries, while his work on the ground was outstanding.
O'Driscoll's foil, the long-time centre partner worked hard for those around him in another unselfish performance.
Not getting the breaks with ball in hand, but consistently strong in all facets of the game and his inside ball for Sexton's second try was neatly done.
If it hadn't been O'Driscoll's day, his two-try performance would have been the highlight. Ran hard and with conviction, and a repeat in Paris would be excellent news for Ireland.
As he was coming into the game, a shot to the ribs finished his day prematurely, but understood to have been ill during the week.
His best display in the Six Nations to date. Scrummaged well and his carries were laced with menace. Deserved his try; Ireland will pray the assertion that his foot is okay proves correct.
Not faultless out of touch or as prominent as he has been in the loose, but still the hooker is an integral member of the team.
Ireland's scrum was dominant once again and the tighthead made yards with ball in hand when asked.
Outshining his second-row partner with a series of impressive displays. A clumsy knock-on apart, the Leinster lock took on the Italians with ball in hand and grows more confident by the week.
Burned an overlap in the opening minute and rarely exerted the influence he normally does. Others stepped up, but Ireland will need more from the captain in Paris.
Solid first Six Nations start from the big-hitting Ulsterman, even if it seems safe to assume that Peter O'Mahony will return on Saturday.
Much like D'Arcy behind the scrum, Ireland's top tackler does the dirty work so others can shine and he got through a mountain of toil.
The kind of game that suits him down to the ground and he responded by leading the carrying stats and taking the game to Italy.
Eoin Reddan (8) made a real case for a starting spot against France with a performance packed with purpose and pace. His quick taps and presence of mind had Italy in disarray. There were first tries for Sean Cronin (7) and Jack McGrath (7), who both had an impact, as did Rhys Ruddock (7), whose steal led to Cronin's touchdown. Fergus McFadden (7) impressed again and managed a try, while Paddy Jackson (6) didn't look out of place. Marty Moore (6) held up well, while Jordi Murphy was last man off the bench and wasn't on long enough to rate.
Reckons a championship would be ahead of schedule in his first season, but after watching his side show yet more improvement and a ruthless streak to boot, it is hard not to get excited about the possibility.
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