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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ireland run up record score in Italy

A crowd of 3,500 at the Colleferro stadium in Rome was not enough to prevent Ireland run up their highest ever score in the Six Nations this afternoon as they moved into second place in the championship. However, it was only over the final quarter of the game that Ireland pulled ahead - the teams were well matched for much of the first sixty minutes, with Italy going ahead on several occasions.

A tight first half had the teams separated by the boot of last week's hero, Nimah Briggs, until Este for Italy scored the first try in the 31st minute. In fact it sounds as if the Italians were unlucky not to go in at half time ahead, Ireland scoring in the final minute of the first half to lead 8-5.

The lead didn't last long. In the fourth minute of the second half Elisa Cucchiella breaking through the Irish defence for a try, converted by Veronica Schiavon, 12-8 to Italy. But with Briggs full of confidence the lead could not last. A penalty brought Ireland within a point, then on 54 minutes Irish prop (or what translates as "pylon" in Italian!) Fiona Coughlan took the Italian defence by surprise (in some not easily translatable way) which - with the aid of Briggs' boot - put Ireland 18-12 ahead, a lead they would not lose again. Three more tries followed as the Italians tired and Ireland finished comfortable winners.

However, there were a number of positives for a young Italian side whose biggest game is coming up in two week's time. "I think the team has played good rugby for most of the match", said technical manager Giampiero Granatelli, "and positive signs came from the younger girls in their first experience of international rugby: important indictors for the next game against Scotland on Saturday 28 in Edinburgh. " 

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