|World Cup warm-up match: Ireland v Italy|
|Ireland (19) 29|
|Tries: Carbery, D. Kearney, Conway, Murphy, Marmion Cons: Carbery 2|
|Italy (10) 10|
|Tries: Mbanda, Canna|
Ireland kicked off their World Cup preparations with a five-try win over Italy in Dublin.
Joe Schmidt’s experimental side were behind twice as Italy’s Maxime Mbanda and Carlo Canna scored either side of Joey Carbery’s try.
But Dave Kearney, Andrew Conway, Jordi Murphy and Kieran Marmion all crossed as Ireland sealed a comfortable win.
Ireland will hope an ankle injury sustained by fly-half Carbery does not put his World Cup place in doubt.
Schmidt’s side begin their World Cup campaign against Scotland on 22 September.
Farrell puts hand up in attritional first half
With the majority of Ireland’s starting XV on Saturday not assured of a place in Schmidt’s final 31-man squad, the opening warm-up game was always going to be a test to see which player could make a convincing case for selection.
Munster’s Chris Farrell did his chances no harm with an influential display in an otherwise unconvincing first half.
After falling behind to Mbanda’s try from a rolling maul, Farrell showed quick thought and soft hands to offload to Carbery who registered Ireland’s first points.
Canna collected Guilio Bisegni’s grubber kick to restore Italy’s advantage before Kearney, on his first international appearance since November 2017, crossed in the corner after Farrell’s bruising run into contact created numbers out wide.
Conway, who like Farrell gave a good account of himself showing composure under the high ball and purpose in attack, scored in the other corner two minutes before the interval to give the hosts a nine-point lead to take into the second half.
Carbery’s injury a major concern
Ireland now face a nervous wait over the extent of Carbery’s injury, with the fly-half leaving the field on a medical cart following what appeared to be an ankle injury in the 50th minute.
The New Zealand-born number 10 was been expected to be a player of considerable influence in Japan, as the chief back-up to Jonathan Sexton.
Indeed, such was Schmidt’s desire for Carbery to be a crucial part of his set-up, he orchestrated the fly-half’s move from Leinster to Munster to ensure that he was receiving regular game time at 10.
Carbery had shown glimpses of his considerable ability in the first half, his accurate kicking from hand finding territory for his side on several occasions.
Senior stars set to return
While the injury is a huge concern, Schmidt will be mostly satisfied, if not elated, with what he saw from his side, who extinguished hopes of an Italy revival early in the second half as Murphy barrelled over following Garry Ringrose’s fine break.
As replacements arrived in their numbers, Ireland continued to dominate proceedings, with Jack Carty ably steering the ship following Carbery’s departure.
It was another replacement, Marmion, who struck the final blow for the hosts when his charge-down, just minutes after entering the fray, allowed him to dot down under the posts.
It is likely that a lot of Ireland’s senior players will return for the England game on 24 August, by which time Schmidt may have cut a few more from his squad which currently consists of 43 players.
The head coach, who is leaving his position after the tournament in Japan, will not settle on his final squad until after Ireland’s final warm-up game against Wales on 7 September.
Ireland: Larmour; Conway, Ringrose, C Farrell, D Kearney; J Carbery, L McGrath; J McGrath, Herring, Porter, Toner, Kleyn, Ruddock (c), O’Donnell, Murphy.
Subs: Scannell, Healy, J. Ryan, Henderson, Beirne, Marmion, Carty, Haley.
Italy: Padovani; Esposito, Benvenuti, Minozzi, Besigni; Canna, Palazzani; Quaglio, Fabiani, Riccioni, Zanni, Budd (c), Licata, Mbanda, Tuivaiti.
Subs: Zani, Lovotti, Ferrari, Lazzardni, Giammarioli, Bradley, McKinley, Negri.