If some still had doubts, they can be reassured (or frightened): the XV of Clover has well digested the elimination in the quarter-finals of the last World Cup. A week after their great success against the Blues in Marseille, the Irish left even less suspense against the Italians, Sunday February 11, at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Andy Farrell’s men did not exert their talent to achieve a second consecutive success, ultimately dominating the Italians (36-0), offensive bonus point at stake. They thus regain the lead in the ranking of the Six Nations Tournament, ahead of England, the only other team to have achieved a flawless performance after two days.
The parallel with the Blues – also beaten in the quarter-finals of the World Cup -, which was already striking during the opening match, took on a new dimension this weekend, with the laborious victory of Fabien Galthié’s men against ‘catchy Scots. It is true that the Irish are more accustomed to recovering from an early elimination at a World Cup, having been beaten eight times in as many attempts in the quarter-finals.
Against Italy, the noisy Irish fans found the team they had left crowned with a grand slam last season. And the suspense didn’t last long. In the wake of Jack Crowley – brilliant replacement for the legend Jonathan Sexton, who retired after the high mass at the Oval -, the XV of Clover took only seven minutes to score its first try, via of its new opener precisely.
A patiently constructed victory
Opposite, Toulouse Ange Capuozzo tried to take advantage of the rare gaps left by the Irish defense, but they systematically closed on the Italian rear. The Clover XV then patiently widened the gap, with new tries from Dan Sheehan (24e and 50e), Jack Conan (37e), Calvin Nash (78e) and James Lowe (62e). Omnipresent, the latter strived to return all the balls captured in his camp towards the other end of the field with his powerful left foot.
Having arrived at the head of the Squadra Azzurra at the start of the competition, the Argentinian Gonzalo Quesada will quickly have to remobilize his troops to try to bounce back against France on February 25 in Lille. His team currently occupies last place in the Tournament, having already concluded the previous edition at the bottom of the ranking. For its part, the XV of Clover will tackle an Anglo-Saxon triptych, since it is preparing to challenge England, Wales then Scotland.