Ireland were first to score when David Humphreys tapped over a simple 30 metre penalty in the 4th minute and he followed with successful efforts in the 10th and 16th minutes to leave Ireland 9 points to the good. By then Ireland had created several try scoring chances the best of which came in the 13th minute when Brian O'Driscoll failed to get a pass away to Anthony Foley who had the line at his mercy.
The Italians were then reduced to fourteen when prop Salvatore Perugini was yellow carded for a head butt on Peter Stringer. How a red card wasn't produced is a mystery.
Ireland continued to enjoy the greater amount of possession but coughed up the ball on countless occasion.
They were probably fortunate that the Italians dropped ball at crucial times but there was nothing fortunate about Ireland's first try which came when Kelly galloped through following a neat cut-out pass from temporary replacement Ronan O'Gara. O'Gara added the points and the Italians had a second player yellow carded when their other prop Giampiero de Carli received his marching orders for punching.
The half ended with a penalty from O'Gara and a penalty miss from the normally reliable Diego Dominguez.
Early in the second half Italian full-back Gert Peens dropped a marvellous goal from inside his own half but in the 47th minute Kelly scored his second try after taking a beautifully deft inside pass from Peter Clohessy. Humphreys missed the difficult conversion and Italy's most impressive player, flanker Mauro Bergamasco scored to the right of the posts for a try that Dominguez converted. (24-10).
Humphreys added a penalty which heralded a period of Italian pressure but the Irish defence held firm, helped somewhat by the Italian's lack of nous.
Denis Hickie scored a try before being replaced by Tyrone Howe but it was the Italians who had the final say, de Carli scoring deep in injury time, Dominguez adding the conversion.
Ireland.Girvan Dempsey; John Kelly, Brian O'Driscoll, Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie (T Howe 80 min); David Humphreys capt (R.O'Gara temp),Peter Stringer; Peter Clohessy (P Wallace 75 min), Shane Byrne, John Hayes; Gary Longwell, Malcolm O'Kelly (Paul O'Connell 70 min); Simon Easterby, David Wallace (E Miller 79 min), Anthony Foley.