9 Feb 2015

Ireland open Six Nations defence with a win

12:00 pm on 9 February 2015

Ireland opened the defence of their Six Nations rugby crown with a comfortable 26-3 win over Italy, while France struggled to a 15-8 defeat of a resilient Scotland side in Paris.

Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt

Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Second-half tries from Conor Murray and Tommy O'Donnell helped Ireland to the win at the Stadio Olimpico while all of France's points came from the boot of Camille Lopez.

Dougie Fife scored the only try of the game for Scotland just before half-time while Greg Laidlaw also scored a penalty.

Ireland led 9-3 at the break courtesy of three Ian Keatley penalties but Italian resistance finally crumbled 15 minutes from time when Murray burrowed over shortly after Leonardo Ghiraldini had been sent to the sin bin.

O'Donnell, who only played after Sean O'Brien pulled up in the warm-up with a hamstring injury, broke through the Italian defence two minutes later to put the match firmly beyond the Italians.

Italy finished with a flourish and New Zealand-born Kelly Haimona thought he had scored a try, but it was ruled out because of the faintest of knock-ons by Sergio Parisse amid jeers from the Stadio Olimpico crowd.

England beat Wales 21-16 in the opening match.

France face Ireland in Dublin next weekend while England entertain Italy and Scotland welcome Wales.

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