5 Oct 2015

Ireland seal place in RWC knockout stage

7:23 am on 5 October 2015

Ireland secured their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals but were far from convincing in their first real test of the competition, squeezing past Italy 16-9 to move on to a group decider against France.

Ireland's Keith Earls scores a try.

Ireland's Keith Earls scores a try. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

After trading early penalties, centre Keith Earls was slickly put through to become Ireland's record World Cup try scorer, but the Six Nations champions were sloppy throughout the first half and Tommaso Allan's boot kept the tireless Italians within four points at the break.

Spurred on by the returning Sergio Parisse, Italy grew in confidence and an Allan penalty made it 10-9 before Johnny Sexton gave Ireland some breathing space on the hour with two penalties as they hung on with 14 men after a yellow card for flanker Peter O'Mahony.

Ireland and France move on to Cardiff in a week's time with three wins a piece and the chance to top Pool D, a significant prize given that the victors would probably avoid defending champions New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

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