The Grand Slam for Ireland is still on track after a gruelling 34-20 victory in Rome over a tenacious Italian squad that took 70 minutes to escape from. Ireland v Italy was close and Ireland scored some good tries, but Italy made it very difficult and Ireland's inaccuracy in defence was a problem. Ireland created loads of opportunities but failed to get over at vital times.
Here's our Ireland player ratings from a unexpectedly tense Ireland v Italy encounter.
Ireland v Italy: Ireland Player Ratings
15 Hugo Keenan - 7
With some excellent footwork, he scored early in the first half. He works hard in the backfield. when called upon, needs to be more effective with his distribution.
14 Mack Hansen - 8
A better performance by the Irish winger. Got over for the bonus point try and the vital last try. Vital turnover & tackle to stop a certain Italian linebreak.. Looked to get off his wing as much as he could.
13 Bundee Aki - 5
Superb offload to Lowe, which led to James Ryan's try and a line break before Keenan's try as well as one himself, was crucial to Ireland's (and Italy's!!!!) first-half tries. Nonetheless, the Italians took advantage of a defensive weakness in the 13 channel (5 missed tackles).
12 Stuart McCloskey - 7
Huge workrate by the Irish centre who was left to do much of the midfield defence work, mopping up the mistakes around him. Lucky not to get a yellow card in the 2nd half for a high tackle on Capuozzo . 14 tackles
11 James Lowe - 7
Cause a lot of damage to Italy down the left wing and provided some really good offloads/passes. Caught out in defence on the edge for the Italian first try.
10 Ross Byrne - 7
His passing range was excellent. His touchline kicking was outstanding. Needed to opt for 3pts early in the 2nd half.
9 Craig Casey - 7
His speed at the breakdown was excellent – suffered from some sloppy breakdown work by Ireland and some illegal Italian tactics. His box kicks were inconsistent.
1 Andrew Porter - 6
Solid scrum performance and much better discipline by the loose head. Not as lively as we normally see from him in attack.
2 Ronan Kelleher - 8
Excellent around the tackle area and slowed much of Italy’s attack. Great steal to stop an Italian attack. His lineout throwing was excellent all day.
3 Finley Bealham -6
Struggled with the pressure on him by the Italian scrum. Off with what looked like a bad knee injury in the first half.
4 Iain Henderson - 7
Good solid lineout work. His work rate in this team was good.. Offered himself up to carry/tip all day .
5 James Ryan (Capt.) – 7
Great inside support line to get Irelands’ early try. Good lineout calling performances. His defensive effect was outstanding with 10 tackles.
6 Caelan Doris - 7
Good through a lot of clearout work. Came into the game more when switched to No.8 in the 2nd half. 13 tackles/12 Ball carries.
7 Josh Van Der Flier - 8
Saved Irish blushes with a great tackle in the last 15minutes to stop a certain try. His support play was excellent . Ireland’s top tackler with 14 tackles.
8 Jack Conan - 7
A good solid performance but lacked the impact in his 9 ball carries.
Ireland player ratings: Replacements
Dan Sheehan - 6
A quiet impact off the bench.
Dave Kilcoyne - 6
Got on the ball twice when he came on.
Tom O’Toole - 7
Good impact when he came on – with solid scrum and defence work.
Ryan Baird - 7
An instant impact with a great penalty win that got Ireland 27-20 ahead. Good lineout steal in the 2nd half.
Peter O’Mahony - 7
Good calm head when needed. Solid in defence in the 24 minutes he was on.
Conor Murray - 7
Came on at a vital time and settled a stuttering attack. Great little half break and offload to Hansen to get the final try.
Jack Crowley - n/a
On for 2mins
Jimmy O’Brien - n/a
Just 6 minutes
Coach – 7
Brave selection. Will be relieved to get the win and getting some of the squad some good international experience. Needed to fix the midfield defence problems earlier/take points when needed. The defence on the edge needs urgent fixing before the visit to Murrayfield.
SEE ALSO: Irish Fans Baffled By Snail's Pace Rendition Of 'Ireland's Call' In Rome