Italy 20-34 Ireland: Hansen strikes twice as Farrell's side maintain Grand Slam charge

By Sports Desk February 25, 2023

Ireland kept their Six Nations Grand Slam charge on track after a 34-20 victory over a spirited Italy in Rome.

Mack Hansen crossed twice while stand-in captain James Ryan, Hugo Keenan and Bundee Aki also went over at Stadio Olimpico for Andy Farrell's side, who recorded their third straight bonus-point win in this year’s tournament.

Although without the injured Johnny Sexton, the visitors registered their 23rd Six Nations win over Italy in 24 attempts – and 10th on the bounce.

Despite a determined display, the hosts continued their dismal record on home soil, where they have now suffered 24 successive defeats since beating Ireland 10 years ago.

Ireland came flying out the blocks, and although TMO denied James Lowe the opening try after just 90 seconds, the Leinster wing soon turned provider for Ryan to cross.

Having pushed reigning champions France all the way in their Six Nations opener, Italy responded with Stephen Varney going over after a rapid burst from Lorenzo Cannone.

But the visitors soon established control. Keenan broke through and rode challenges to regain the lead, while a series of sharp offloads enabled Aki and Hansen to cross in the corners.

Italy gave themselves hope before the break as Pierre Bruno intercepted Aki's offload on halfway to dash for the line.

A tight second half ensued with the hosts drawing on all their defensive resolve to prevent Ireland from extending their advantage as Paolo Garbisi and Ross Byrne exchanged kicks.

But the visitors finally put the result beyond doubt nine minutes from time when a neat offload released Hansen, who made no mistake in claiming his second try.

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