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Countdown To Rome: Three Days To Go

Countdown To Rome: Three Days To Go

…Team Performances: Ireland v Italy…2001 Flashback: Hat-Trick ‘Hendo’…Leinster’s Italian Job…Say What?…Numbers Game…


– After four rounds of the 2007 RBS Six Nations – Statistics supplied by SAS Software Ltd

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Tackles Made: Ireland 279, Italy 354
Missed Tackles: Ireland 28, Italy 44
Tackle Completion: Ireland 91%, Italy 89%
Offloads In The Tackle: Ireland 42, Italy 23

Passes Completed: Ireland 507, Italy 413
Possession Kicked: Ireland 118, Italy 138
Kicks/Passes: Ireland 19%, Italy 25%
Ball Won In Opponents’ 22: Ireland 53, Italy 86

Line Breaks: Ireland 21, Italy 8
Errors Made: Ireland 64, Italy 67
Turnovers Won: Ireland 29, Italy 33
Ruck Clearances: Ireland 68%, Italy 61%

Scrums Won/Lost: Ireland 34/1, Italy 19/1
Lineouts Won/Lost: Ireland 66/6, Italy 65/8
Penalties Conceded/Awarded: Ireland 30/39, Italy 47/33
Mauls Won: Ireland 18, Italy 35

Points Scored: Ireland 98, Italy 70
Tries For/Against: Ireland 9/3, Italy 7/10
Conversions: Ireland 7, Italy 7
Strike Rate: Ireland 80%, Italy 73%


Italy 22 Ireland 41, Stadio Flaminio

Scorers: Italy: Tries: Corrado Pilat, Carlo Checchinato, Mauro Bergamasco; Cons: Ramiro Pez 2; Pen: Pilat Ireland: Tries: Rob Henderson 3, Shane Horgan, Ronan O’Gara; Con: O’Gara 2; Pens: O’Gara 4

Rob Henderson had undoubtedly his finest game for Ireland on their first visit to Rome’s Stadio Flaminio as he pocketed a nifty 19-minute hat-trick of tries.

His 39th-minute opener was the best of the lot as O’Gara sent him crashing over past Christian Stoica in the left corner after a bullocking 40-metre dash.

The Azzurri were still right in it at the break, trailing by 19-15 after tries from right wing Corrado Pilat and lock Carlo Checchinato.

Henderson – a future Lion that year – took just two minutes to bag a timely second on the restart and a brilliant run and chip ahead from Tyrone Howe paved the way for the Dover-born centre to notch his third soon after.

Horgan – scoring his third in two games – and O’Gara also got in for a debut try as Italy scrum half Alessandro Troncon was sensationally sent-off on 76 minutes for an off-the-ball punch on opposite number Peter Stringer.

Trivia: South African referee Jonathan Kaplan was a busy man that day as Italian prop Andrea Muraro and Ireland front rower Peter Clohessy were also sin-binned in separate incidents. ‘The Claw’ celebrated long into the night though as Ireland chalked up their first ‘opening day’ win since 1988.

Quotes: “I don’t score many tries,” hat-trick hero Henderson commented afterwards. “To score one was a bonus, to score three a dream. Like a good wine, I think I am maturing with age.

“The first try was definitely the favourite because I broke a tackle and showed a bit of speed as well.”

Then a Wasps player, Henderson was at his humrous best when asked about the pace he had shown when taking his tries. “I’ve been working with a personal trainer Warren Loughlin in Surrey four times a week. I got him out of the Yellow Pages. I just looked under ‘F’ for fitness!”

Ireland: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Mike Mullins, Rob Henderson, Tyrone Howe; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Peter Clohessy, Keith Wood (capt), John Hayes, Mick Galwey, Malcolm O’Kelly, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Anthony Foley.

Replacements: Frankie Sheahan, Emmett Byrne, Jeremy Davidson, Andy Ward, Brian O’Meara, David Humphreys, Kevin Maggs.

LEINSTER’S ITALIAN JOB: Michael Cheika will get the chance to run the rule over a number of players tonight as Leinster take on Italian outfit Benetton Treviso in a friendly clash at Donnybrook (kick-off 6.30pm).

With the province’s last game on February 16, this is a timely fixture as Cheika’s side prepare for their Heineken Cup quarter-final against London Wasps.

Ireland flanker Keith Gleeson reckons it is a chance for the province’s young and up-and-coming players to shine. He said: “Although we won’t be climbing walls and screaming at each other, the friendly game is important because there are places up for grabs in the squad.

“Irish rugby is definitely in a stronger place than it has arguably ever been in, from a results point of view, at international and provincial levels. At this stage in the season one or two younger players may well come into the reckoning with next season and beyond in mind.

“You need that competition and those who were involved with the ‘A’ team will also be keen to take whatever chances they’re given.”

Cash will be taken at the turnstiles tonight. There is free entry for season ticket holders and for all children Under-12 (accompanied by an adult).

LEINSTER Squad (v Treviso)Backs: Guy Easterby, Chris Whitaker, Jonathan Sexton, Felipe Contepomi, Luke Fitzgerald, Fergus McFadden, Christian Warner, Michael Berne, Kieran Lewis, Gary Brown, Ross McCarron, Rob Kearney

Forwards: Harry Vermaas, Stanley Wright, Brian Blaney, Bernard Jackman, Will Green, Cameron Jowitt, Malcolm O’Kelly, Devin Toner, Owen Finegan, Richie Leyden, Stephen Keogh, Niall Ronan, Keith Gleeson, Kevin McLaughlin, Jamie Heaslip


“No, not really. We have been in camp for seven or eight weeks and Rory (Best) has thrown to me in the lineout. It’s not a huge issue. Rory is one of the best throwers in the game at the minute.”

– Lock Mick O’Driscoll, who will step into Paul O’Connell’s shoes in Ireland’s second row this weekend, is asked if it will be difficult settling into the side and adapting to the lineout calls

“In New Zealand, where I lived until my 18th birthday, I did track and field and ran for the schools’ representative 4x400m relay team. Doug Howlett, the All Blacks winger, was one of the four. We’re still good friends and keep in touch a lot.”

– Italian winger Kaine Robertson, who was born in Auckland, explains where he honed the pace he used to score the Azzurri’s first half try in their 23-20 defeat of Wales last week

“But we’re lucky that we’ve got guys who have been in camp with us for six or eight weeks now and previous to that through the autumn and in camps for Ireland for a number of years, so regarding that I don’t think there’s a huge issue with continuity.

“The guys know all the calls. It’s not as big a jump as it was for a guy a number of years ago. Luckily there is continuity there.”

– Ireland winger Shane Horgan gives his view on Mick O’Driscoll’s call-up to the Irish side and how the Munster lock will fit in easily into the team due to his involvement with the training squad


20 – The number of tries that the Irish starting back line, named for Saturday’s game, has scored in previous Test encounters with Italy – Girvan Dempsey (4), Shane Horgan (4), Brian O’Driscoll (3), Denis Hickie (6), Ronan O’Gara (1) and Peter Stringer (2). Gordon D’Arcy has yet to score against the Azzurri

4 – The number of players in the Irish starting line-up to face Italy that hail from the Cork Constitution club – Ronan O’Gara, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll and Denis Leamy

31 – The number of carries Gordon D’Arcy has made in Ireland’s four matches to date in the 2007 RBS 6 Nations championship