Larmour hat trick as Ireland whip Italy 54-7 in Chicago
CHICAGO (AP) — Fullback Jordan Larmour scored a hat trick of tries as Ireland’s experimental side outclassed Italy’s second-stringers 54-7 at Soldier Field on Saturday.
Larmour and lock Tadhg Beirne, who notched a brace, both made their first starts. Ireland also sent on reserve backs Ross Byrne and Will Addison to debut in a match building depth for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Ireland’s depth, as expected, was far more impressive as eight tries were posted to one intercept try.
Even with only four surviving starters from the matchup in February during the Six Nations Grand Slam run, Ireland put a fourth consecutive 50 on Italy, which fielded only two starters from nine months ago.
Italy also debuted two, back-rowers Johan Steyn and Jimmy Tuivaiti, and gave a fourth cap to Dublin-born flyhalf Ian McKinley, who wanted to play for Ireland until he lost sight in his left eye at 21. The receipt of goggles four years ago and residency in Italy led to his test debut a year ago.
Soldier Field was sold out two years ago when Ireland beat New Zealand for the first time, but it was only a third full this time.
When Beirne crashed over after five minutes, an Ireland blowout looked on the cards. But the match turned scrappy and Ireland didn’t score for half an hour. Italy gave away possession from a crooked throw-in, and Larmour stepped defenders, broke, and set up scrumhalf Luke McGrath.
Ireland captain Rhys Ruddock was then intercepted by Italy counterpart Michele Campagnaro right on halftime and Italy trailed only 14-7.
Ireland clicked in the second half.
A Ruddock intercept led to Beirne’s second try, a Campagnaro loose pass led to Larmour’s first try from his own half, and when replacement hooker Sean Cronin went over in a maul, flyhalf Joey Carbery’s fifth conversion made it 35-7 with more than a quarter to go.
That prompted both sides to empty their benches.
Larmour beat three weak tackles for his second try, Bundee Aki set up midfield partner Garry Ringrose for the seventh try, and Larmour saved his best trickery for last in injury time. He outfoxed some forwards in midfield, stepped scrumhalf Tito Tebaldi, and blew past the last defender.
Next weekend, back home at full strength, Ireland hosts Argentina, and Italy tackles Georgia.