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Intensity Of Ireland-Italy Game Caught Stephen Ferris By Surprise

Intensity Of Ireland-Italy Game Caught Stephen Ferris By Surprise
Joshua Bell Curran
By Joshua Bell Curran
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Ireland recorded their third win from three Six Nations matches last Saturday, eventually beating a dogged Italian side by fourteen points. Returning to Dublin with another bonus point, sitting top of the table and with the Grand Slam attempt still in full flow.

While their record remains impeccable, Italy asked serious questions of Ireland from start to finish, delivering a much closer game than anybody could have expected. A host of uncharacteristic handling errors muddled with a fresh and exciting Italian offence delivered one of the most exciting games of the Six Nations. For eighty minutes, Italy tested every aspect of the Irish side and Ireland responded just as ferociously. However, the gravity of the test left many people pondering if the Italians had really improved that much? or if ultimately Ireland were poor and possibly not the team they'd been made out to be?

Speaking to us after the game Stephen Ferris was still reeling with excitement from the experience and revealed his insights into where Ireland truly are as a team.

It was a fantastic game real quick.

I haven't seen anything quite like it to be honest. It was brilliant to be part of.

The first half delivered I'd say probably the best first half of rugby that we've seen so far in the championship and that's because there was mistakes on both sides, there was missed tackles, there was lots of line breaks, it was played at such a ferocious pace. All I can say is thank god I'm retired, long retired and not playing because that was, you know, real intensity.


Despite plenty of people questioning how strong this Ireland side really are after the Italy test, Ferris was having none of it and completely dismissed any suggestions that the performance was a stain on an otherwise perfect Irish side.

I've said this to everybody that I've met who has started to pour cold water on the Irish fire and say that oh yeah it was a bit nip and tuck at times.

Well hold on a second here. we dropped three balls over the line, Ross Byrne on form knocks three conversions over that's  twenty one points, we throw a silly interception that's another seven points. Were Ireland 28 points better than Italy? I don't think they were, but I certainly think that they were 14 points better and that's obviously what the final margin was.

So yes, of course everybody got a little nervous, you know that third quarter of the game because it did tighten up, however, Ireland thoroughly deserved to win, they played the better rugby and they can take a lot of things out of it.

With Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose and Tadgh Furlong all injured heading into the Italy game, it was set to be the first true test of Ireland's squad depth in this Six Nations. Ireland are notorious for nose-diving out of contention as soon as injury strikes key players. This is a criticism that has been lobbed at Irish teams for years now, and ultimately cost the side dearly during the world cup nearly four years ago. With the same questions reappearing as we approach this year's world cup, Ferris offered his opinions on where we stand after the Italy game and what the return of those players will mean.

I think two years ago we were having conversations about the lack of depth and where do they go when they reach the Rugby World Cup when they maybe have two or three injuries. This is the scenario that's probably going to raise it's head in a rugby world cup where you have a number of injuries to key players and you're gonna have to call upon and rely on maybe guys with less experience.

So yeah it's great that we can call upon all these guys to come back in and if anything strenghten Ireland rather than weaken it.

While preparation and talk may be beginning for the world cup already, Ireland still have their eyes set on Six Nations Grand Slam glory, with the next stop being Scotland in Edinburgh. Ireland travel to Murrayfield next Sunday the 12th of March to take on second-place Scotland in what should be another thrilling encounter.

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