Ireland have defeated Italy 48-10 in Rome to secure their first win of the 2021 Six Nations campaign.
Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan, Will Connors (two), CJ Stander and Keith Earls crossed the whitewash in a comprehensive six-try, bonus-point victory against Franco Smith’s hosts.
Andy Farrell’s men had a further three tries ruled out against a disorganised, ill-disciplined Azzurri side who lost two players to the sin bin.
Paolo Garbisi kicked Italy – who have now lost 30 consecutive matches in the tournament – into an early lead with a penalty in the fourth minute, before Ireland captain Sexton responded in kind two minutes later.
Ireland recorded their first try in the 11th minute after intense pressure deep in the Italian half.
Having been stopped just short of the try-line, Jamison Gibson-Park recycled the ball to Ringrose, who showed good feet and a burst of pace to sprint over the whitewash.
Sexton converted, before adding another three points from an 18th-minute penalty.
Italy continued to concede an alarming amount of penalties, a staggering 18 in total.
Keenan notched Ireland’s second try just after the half hour mark, racing through a wide gap in the middle of the Italian defence from 22 yards after a good diving offload from Ringrose.
Sexton registered his second conversion, and Connors scored Ireland’s third try soon afterwards, collecting the ball out wide on the left and touching down after quick hands from Sexton and then Jordan Larmour.
Sexton’s third conversion soon followed, but Italy were to have the last say of the half.
Johan Meyer drove over for an Azzurri try in the dying seconds of the half after a good run from Paolo Garbisi, who converted to reduce Ireland’s lead to 27-10 at the interval.
It took Farrell’s visitors just three minutes in the second half to grab a fourth try.
Tadhg Furlong was stopped just short of the line, allowing Stander to eventually barge over from close range, securing a bonus point in the process.
Sexton made it four conversions from four.
Italy then lost two players to yellow cards in the space of six minutes, with Giosue Zilocchi and Luca Bigi being sent to the sin bin.
Munster’s Craig Casey and Leinster’s Ryan Baird were introduced for their international debuts in the 64th minute.
Connors scored his second try of the game two minutes later, powering over from five metres off the back of a rolling maul. Sexton converted once more.
Ireland’s sixth and final try came in stoppage time.
Casey showed some quick thinking to take a quick penalty inside the Italian 22, passing the ball to Jack Conan, who was stopped short of the line. Casey recycled the ball to Sexton, who flung it out wide to the right wing to find the advancing Keith Earls, who ghosted over the try-line to cap off a fine away performance from Ireland.
Sexton’s successful conversion was the final kick of the game.
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