The game at a glance
Published 08/02/2010 | 05:00
David Wallace got the official nod with a typically robust display, Cian Healy had a productive afternoon and Ronan O'Gara was smoothly efficient. But, on his first Six Nations appearance in seven years, Leinster captain Leo Cullen rose to the occasion magnificently. Tormenting the Italian line-out, driving through the scrum and putting himself about all over the park.
The Italians made no secret of their intention to go after the Irish props who they considered either too green (Healy) or too long in the tooth (John Hayes). Their spearhead was bearded behemoth Martin Castrogiovanni but Healy had the Leicester man in his pocket. The sight of 'Castro' trudging off disconsolately (and unwillingly) after 55 minutes was a sweet sight for defenders of Ireland's set-piece.
Roman Poite was under the microscope going in and, while his contribution was never going to be game-deciding, the Frenchman still managed to stand over a stream of baffling calls, the most blatant being the sin-binning of Gonzalo Garcia, and persistently nagging the ear of Paul O'Connell.
Flat. There was a not a whole lot for the attendance of 77,686 to get excited about and the most enthusiastic singing came from small pockets of Italians enjoying the day out.
How much more do Ireland have in the tank for Paris?
When it came to attacking ambition, Italy had the penetration potential of a reticent eunuch. Turning points were out of the equation.
"Ireland are a very good side. They're very pragmatic and have probably the best backline in Europe." -- Italy coach Nick Mallett.
"We're delighted with the win. Are we overly excited by the performance? Not too much." -- Ireland coach Declan Kidney.
Saturday, February 13: France v Ireland, Stade de France, 4.30 (Irish time).