Ireland came through a worryingly slow start that saw them trail 5-0 after 12 minutes to get back on level terms through the try of the game six minutes later as Joey Carbery was the beneficiary of slick backline play to finish smartly.
Though Italy went back in front soon after, Ireland never really looked troubled and an Andrew Conway try just before half-time achieved separation at 19-10.
The perils of World Cup “warm-ups” were realised at Aviva Stadium on Saturday as Ireland’s plans for Japan were thrown into uncertainty after an injury to fly-half Joey Carbery.
Nailed on as Johnny Sexton’s primary back-up for the Ireland number 10 jersey, Carbery was playing well with a try under his belt and a couple of conversions only for the Munster playmaker to get dragged into a ruck, twisting his right leg as Italian bodies piled on top.
The sight of Carbery being helped onto a stretcher cart highlighted the thin line players with World Cup ambitions walk during these preparatory Test matches.
Munster wing Andrew Conway did his World Cup selection chances no harm at all with a man of the match award following a try-scoring turn which ended with a slight blood injury.
His provincial backline team-mate Chris Farrell will have driven him close for the accolade, playing at inside centre rather than in his customary outside centre position, Farrell provided plenty of defensive ballast but also exhibited nice hands in the build-up to Joey Cabrery’s try and was a willing first receiver throughout.
England’s Luke Pearce presided over a low-key game with little incident in terms of ill-discipline.
He made a a strong call to award an Italian try in the first half when tryscorer Carlos Canna might have been adjudged to be in front of the kicker when the ball went through but evened that out by disallowing an Azzurri try from a lineout to the front when his linesman spotted the recipient stray within five metres of the touchline.
Ireland 6 Italy 7
Ireland’s chief concern will be fly-half Joey Carbery, who left the field on a stretcher cart in the 50th minute having had his leg twisted at the bottom of a ruck.
Hooker Rob Herring was an earlier casualty, withdrawn after 19 minutes but there was a late injury scare when Devin Toner, back on as a blood substitute for debutant and fellow starting lock Jean Kleyn, hobbled off at the end of his extra shift.
After trimming his squad from 45 to 43 last week, the end of the road is expected to come for more of Ireland’s training group next week before the remaining number travel to Portugal’s Algarve for a week-long, warm-weather training camp ahead of the second of four warm-up Tests.
Ireland will fly from Faro to London a week on Thursday to face England at Twickenham on August 24.