12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Brian O'Driscoll's 45th try for Ireland helped Declan Kidney's men move into a 17-9 and with a number of players leading from the front, the space was created for Keith Earls to celebrate his 24th birthday in style with a two-try haul.
Ronan O'Gara chipped in with four penalties and two conversions for a 16-point tally, and his replacement Jonathan Sexton weighed in with a well-struck conversion and penalty.
The front row of Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross was more than a match for the expected Italian onslaught in the scrum, and the back row of MasterCard man-of-the-match Sean O'Brien, Stephen Ferris and Jamie Heaslip was the most dominant unit throughout.
Ireland defence coach Les Kiss will have been pleased to keep the Azzurri tryless, while luck was not on Tommy Bowe's side as he had a first half try ruled out and went agonisingly close to scoring in that super-charged second period.
The runaway victory completed Ireland's best ever performance in the pool stages of a Rugby World Cup - four straight wins. It is also the first time they have qualified for the quarter-finals as pool winners.
Next up for Kidney's charges is a mouth-watering last-eight date with Wales in Wellington next Saturday (kick-off 6pm local time/6am Irish time).
Full report to follow...
|Ireland Score Card|
|Italy Score Card|