Ireland book quarter-final place with victory over Italy

Ireland book quarter-final place with victory over Italy

Ireland 16 Italy 9

Ireland booked their place in the World Cup quarter-finals as Keith Earls’ first-half try helped Joe Schmidt’s side to a 16-9 win over Italy.

Ireland book quarter-final place with victory over Italy

Earls’ score at the Olympic Stadium was his eighth in World Cups, making him Ireland’s top try-scorer in the history of the tournament, while fly-half Johnny Sexton kicked 11 points to hold off a spirited Italy.

Ireland are guaranteed to reach the knock-out stages and will play France next Sunday to decide who finishes top and likely avoids champions New Zealand in the last eight.

Ireland book quarter-final place with victory over Italy

Defeat ends Italy’s chances of progress but Jacques Brunel’s side can take heart from a determined performance, which stretched a team many believe represent Europe’s best hope of becoming champions.

Italy tried to peg back their opponents once more but substitute Carlo Canna fell short with a long-range penalty before Ireland’s O’Mahony was handed a yellow card for shoulder-charging a ruck.

Down to 14, Ireland looked nervous in the game’s final minutes as Sexton skewed a fairly straight-forward penalty wide and Italy piled forward in search of the match-saving try.

Ireland book quarter-final place with victory over Italy

The opening never came, however, as Ireland held on for a narrow victory and set up a thrilling pool decider with the French.

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