The National Times - Lowry double on debut as Irish crush depleted Italy in Six Nations

Lowry double on debut as Irish crush depleted Italy in Six Nations

Lowry double on debut as Irish crush depleted Italy in Six Nations
Lowry double on debut as Irish crush depleted Italy in Six Nations

Michael Lowry scored two tries on his Test debut as Ireland crushed Italy 57-6 in the Six Nations on Sunday as the visitors played with just 13 men for an hour.

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Wing James Lowe also grabbed a brace as the Irish ran in nine tries to inflict Italy's 35th successive Six Nations defeat.

Victory keeps the hosts' title hopes alive although they have tricky matches to come away to England and then at home to Scotland.

"I tried to compose myself coming out to thousands of people," Lowry told British broadcaster ITV.

"Lining up for the anthems is everyone's childhood dream and that chance is something I will never forget.

"I've worked hard for this."

The Irish were leading 7-3, after Joey Carbery converted his own try, when the game effectively slipped from Italy's grasp in the 19th minute.

Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli flashed a red card at Hamer Faiva, the replacement hooker who had only been on the pitch for a few minutes, for contact with Dan Sheehan's head.

Faiva cast a distraught figure as he trudged off, receiving a consoling hug from the injured Gianmarco Lucchesi who he had replaced, leaving Italy without a specialist hooker.

That meant they were reduced to 13 men under World Rugby's law punishing the side which forced uncontested scrums.

No 8 Toa Halafihi was the player sacrificed -- while replacement prop Ivan Nemer came on for winger Pierre Bruno to fill the hole in the front row.

"The situation was out of our hands, it is something that World Rugby will have to look at," said Italy coach Kieran Crowley.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell concurred with Crowley saying it was "weird".

However, he felt not having contested scrums helped Italy.

"Italy rightly slowed the game down," said Farrell.

"When you have uncontested scrums for so long in the game the legs are nice and fresh and that is why Italy were so tenacious in defence till the end."

- 'Making poor decisions' -

The Irish rammed home the two-man advantage with Jamison Gibson-Park touching down -- after combining with Lowe -- and Carbery converted.

Lowry then marked his debut by scampering over to score a try -- Carbery missed with his conversion for 19-3.

Ireland were far from fluent but they scored a fourth try towards the end of the first half, securing a bonus point, as captain Peter O'Mahony went over in the corner.

Carbery missed with his conversion and the Italians trooped off at half-time with a small boost as fly-half Paolo Garbisi slotted over a penalty for 29-6.

Ireland's scrappy play especially at the outset of the second-half provoked Farrell to get animated in the coaches box.

Lowe calmed him down as he went over from Gibson-Park's long pass for 29-6.

Carbery missed the conversion and that was the 26-year-old's last contribution as Farrell took him off and sent on talismanic fly-half Johnny Sexton.

The 36-year-old captain made an immediate impact producing the pass which gave Lowry his second try. Sexton converted for 36-6.

Ryan Baird added a seventh try charging down Alessandro Fusco's kick, collecting the ball and going over the line. Sexton converted.

An exhausted Italy ended with 12 men as Braam Steyn was sin-binned five minutes from time for batting the ball deliberately into touch.

Lowe went over for his second try going over in the left hand corner after being fed by an unselfish Lowry, who could have gone himself and claimed a hat-trick.

Sexton brought up the half century of points with a sublime conversion.

Kieran Treadwell rounded off a miserable day for the visitors with a try -- Sexton converting and doing wonders for the hosts points difference.

"It took us a while to calm down (after Italy went down to 13) and see the game for what it is and we were making poor decisions on the back of that," said Farrell.

"However, 57-6 we would have certainly taken it before the game.

"It puts us in a good position re points difference if the next two games go our way and we are still in contention for winning the title."