Michael Lowry marks debut with brace of tries as Ireland demolish 12-man Italy in farcical circumstances

Ireland 57 Italy 6

Ireland's Michael Lowry runs in to score their side's third try as Garry Ringrose (right) celebrates. Photo credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

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Michael Lowry marked his Ireland debut with two tries as Andy Farrell's side cantered to a 57-6 Six Nations victory over Italy that takes them into second in the table with two rounds remaining.

Despite the brace of scores from Ireland's newest international though, this game will likely be remembered for the circumstances that saw Italy, already without a win in this competition for seven years, forced to play with 13 men for over an hour, and indeed finish the game with just 12.

There were few complaints about the red card shown to replacement hooker Epalahame Faiva for a high hit on Dan Sheehan but, with Gianmarco Lucchesi already having departed with injury, Italy were left with no choice but to opt for uncontested scrums.

As such, they would be at best two men down for the remainder of the game.

What had felt a long shot coming in, soon had the look of an impossible task.

There were fewer than three minutes on the clock when Garry Ringrose left the field with blood coming from a cut on his forehead, the Leinster centre replaced by Ulster's James Hume.

But moments later Ireland were celebrating their first score of the game with Joey Carbery going over. It had been Caelan Doris who made the initial break before offloading to to hooker Dan Sheehan. Sheehan calmly delayed his pass in turn to set Carbery clear and, although Italian hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi gave spirited chase, he could not prevent Carbery from finishing.

With Doris prominent and Tadhg Beirne busy, all was going according to plan but when Ireland were caught ahead of the kicker approaching the quarter of an hour mark, Edoardo Padovani would confidently knock over the resulting penalty to cut the lead to 7-3.

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They would not get any closer and what already felt like a one-sided game became all the more so when replacement hooker Ephalahame Faiva was sent off for a high hit on his opposite number Sheehan after 18 minutes. Having come on the field ten minutes earlier when Gianmarco Lucchesi left the field injured, there would subsequently be an hour when Italy were forced to play with 13 having caused uncontested scrums.

With the game feeling as if it was descending into a mix of chaos and farce, Ireland were over again two minutes later when James Lowe broke a tackle and gave Jamison Gibson Park a run in.

Ten minutes before the break and Ireland's newest international would get in on the act, taking advantage of Italy's depleted numbers and making the most of space to step inside the attempted tackle of Igancio Brex and canter home.

And the bonus-point would arrive three minutes before the break when, with Italy's defence porous, Garry Ringrose put stand-in skipper Peter O'Mahony over in the corner.

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The second-half will certainly win no points for aesthetics. Ireland were sloppy at the breakdown and gave away needless penalties while the sight of the ball on the deck with too great a frequency will not have pleased Farrell either.

Still they went over again and again, James Lowe the first to score when Gibson-Park repaid his scoring-pass from earlier in the piece.

Lowry would get his second of the day with 25 minutes remaining when he took Johnny Sexton's offload and darted between two defenders each trying to guard too much space.

Ryan Baird showed his rare athleticism in charging down a the box-kick of replacement scrum-half Calessandro Fusco and sprinting clear to score Ireland's seventh.

After Braam Steyn was shown a yellow for slapping the ball in touch, there was still time for Ireland to score two more, Lowry eschewing the chance to go for his hat-trick and instead sending Lowe across for a second of his own before Ulster's Kieran Treadwell crashed over with the last action of the game having come on as a replacement.