Ireland registered their first win of this year’s Six Nations at the second time of asking, with a well-deserved and comprehensive victory against Italy.
Joe Schmidt had demanded a reaction from his side and they didn’t disappoint, sealing the all-important bonus point in the first half on their way to a 63-10 annihilation.
The late withdrawal of captain Rory Best, while an inconvenience, was not as much of a disruption as it could have been, with Munster’s Niall Scannell coming in for the hooker and doing a solid job for the hour he was on the pitch.
CJ Stander and Keith Earls shared the first five tries between them, before three tries from substitute Craig Gilroy (with a Gary Ringrose effort in between) hammered the final nails in the Italian coffin late on. Paddy Jackson, meanwhile, was in fine kicking form with a 100% conversion rate.
The tempo may have dropped slightly for the last quarter but by then the mission was accomplished – Ireland get the points on the board and the championship dream, if not the grand slam, is still alive and kicking.
Social media reflected on a job well done by Joe Schmidt and his men:
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) February 11, 2017
RBS 6 Nations table after Ireland’s big win against Italy pic.twitter.com/Vi1z9d5aGg
— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) February 11, 2017
Full time, and Ireland beat Italy by 63 points to 10. pic.twitter.com/GPetqc8NAW
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 11, 2017
— Jack O’Connor (@JackOConnor16) February 11, 2017
— Jack® (@SparklingHippo) February 11, 2017
— Kate McEvoy (@ImKateMc) February 11, 2017
— PRO12RUGBY (@PRO12rugby) February 11, 2017
1st time in over 100 years 2 players from the 1 team have scored hattricks in a 5/6 Nations game #ITAvIRE
— Nathan Murphy (@nathanmurf) February 11, 2017
Meanwhile, up in the hospitality box…… pic.twitter.com/N71Kss7lvV
— The Rugby Pod (@TheRugbyPod) February 11, 2017
The Aldi kids would have put up more resistance…#ITAvIRE
— Phil O’ Meara (@Phil_O_File) February 11, 2017
— 98FM (@98FM) February 11, 2017
— Catherine Fulvio (@Cfulvio) February 11, 2017
— ♍️ (@JadekavanaghExO) February 11, 2017
— Eoin Dixon Murphy (@EoinDM) February 11, 2017
— Neil Murray (@Neil_Murray57) February 11, 2017
Just the 9 tries for Ireland today then.
Barack O’Bama approves ? pic.twitter.com/IZ2BskKF8S
— BigSport (@BigSportGB) February 11, 2017
CJ Stander, in particular, was singled out for praise as his hat-trick was the perfect response to those the were actually calling for him to be left out of this match. The 26-year-old was, unsurprisingly, named man of the match:
CJ Stander the first hat-trick by an @IrishRugby forward since Keith Wood against USA in 1999
— Stuart Farmer (@Stu_Farmer) February 11, 2017
CJ Stander is an absolute animal
— Kirk McGrady (@KirkMcGrady) February 11, 2017
— iRadio ??? (@ThisisiRadio) February 11, 2017
Don’t want to see any CJ Stander debate after all of this. Tired of it.
— John Duggan (@jduggantodayfm) February 11, 2017
Stander is a fucking animal. He had no right to truck that over from where he was. 28-10 #ITAvIRE
— Three Red Kings (@threeredkings) February 11, 2017
“CJ Stander getting the CJ Stander award.” pure gold Rte commentary. ??
— Stephanie O’Loughlin (@StephanieOLough) February 11, 2017
He should just change his name to CJ Stander Man Of The Match….unreal… #IREvITA
— Mick O’Keeffe (@okmick) February 11, 2017
— Sean Hickey (@seanhickey1) February 11, 2017
— Jack Murray (@mediamurray) February 11, 2017
Why can’t we produce more South African players like Stander? #IREvITA
— Paul Little (@little_football) February 11, 2017
CJ Stander – the first ever hat-trick by a forward in the 6 Nations.
CJ = BO$$
— Today FM (@todayfm) February 11, 2017