Saturday 23 March 2019

Rob Kearney: We got what we expected from Italy - a slog

Ireland full-back Rob Kearney admitted his side's 26-3 win over Italy was a "slog" - but said that was exactly how they expected the match to be.

While the 2015 RBS 6 Nations was kicked off in thrilling fashion on Friday night by England's win over Wales, Saturday's encounter at the Stadio Olimpico was more a battle of attrition as defending champions Ireland laboured to victory.

7 February 2015; Ian Keatley, Ireland, is tackled by Edoardo Gori, left, and George Biagi, Italy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Italy v Ireland. Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
7 February 2015; Ian Keatley, Ireland, is tackled by Edoardo Gori, left, and George Biagi, Italy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Italy v Ireland. Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
7 February 2015; Jared Payne, Ireland, is tackled by Luca Morisi, left, and Kelly Haimona, Italy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Italy v Ireland. Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
7 February 2015; Ian Keatley, Ireland, kicks a first half penalty. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Italy v Ireland. Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
7 February 2015; Peter O'Mahony, Ireland, jumps in the lineout with Sergio Paresse, Italy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Italy v Ireland. Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
7 February 2015; Edoardo Gori, Italy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Italy v Ireland. Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
7 February 2015; Joshua Furno, Italy, in action against Peter O'Mahony, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Italy v Ireland. Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Joe Schmidt's men eventually prevailed in Rome through second-half tries from Conor Murray and Tommy O'Donnell when Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini was in the sin-bin, but while the clash may not have been the best spectacle, Kearney insisted Ireland never expected it to be easy.

He told BBC1: "It was a slog, but I don't know if it was that frustrating. Any time you come to Rome that's exactly what you're expecting - a slog.

"We knew that if we just kept chipping away and trying to build some phases that eventually we would break them down."

Ireland suffered a blow minutes before kick-off when flanker Sean O'Brien was forced to pull out of the starting line-up, nursing his hamstring.

The injury-plagued 27-year-old was poised to make his first Test appearance since November 2013 and Kearney said it was a "massive disappointment" for his Leinster team-mate to miss out.

Kearney said: "It was a bit of a shock for us just before kick-off but we prepped really well and the substitutes train hard during the week and they come in.

"It didn't move us off our groove too much but it's a massive disappointment for him, he's worked so hard to get back here."

Video highlights:

 

An Ireland supporter celebrates Ireland victory close to the final whistle at the Stadio Olimpico.
Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
An Ireland supporter celebrates Ireland victory close to the final whistle at the Stadio Olimpico. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Irish fans arrive at the stadium prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between Italy and Ireland at the Stadio Olimpico Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Ireland fans arrive for the RBS 6 Nations match at the Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.
An Ireland fan arrives for the RBS 6 Nations match at the Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.
Ireland and Italian supporters take a 'selfie' at the Stadio Olimpico. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland supporters take a 'selfie' at the Stadio Olimpico. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Irish rugby fans during the RBS 6 Nations match at the Stadio Olympico, Rome. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.
Rugby fans arrive for the RBS 6 Nations match at the Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.
Rugby fans arrive for the RBS 6 Nations match at the Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.
Ireland supporters look on after victory over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
An Ireland supporter at the Stadio Olimpico. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
An Ireland supporter urges on her side at the Stadio Olimpico. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland supporters at the Stadio Olimpico. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
An Ireland supporter urges on his side at the Stadio Olimpico. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
An Ireland supporter urges on his side at the Stadio Olimpico. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
An Ireland supporter at the Stadio Olimpico. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
An Ireland supporter urges on his side at the Stadio Olimpico. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
An Ireland supporter urges on his side at the Stadio Olimpico Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
An Ireland supporter watches on at the Stadio Olimpico. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Online Editors

The Left Wing: Why Irish fans shouldn't lose faith and how Joe Schmidt can turn things around for the World Cup

In association with Aldi

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport