15. Luke McLean: 7
Had another fine game, and appears to be adding more strings to his bow. He popped up at second receiver to great effect, distributing precisely but also providing a running threat. Italy’s best player on the day.
14. Angelo Esposito: 5
Outshone by his teammate on the other flank, Esposito worked hard but could produce little in terms of real threat. Has had a decent tournament so far and along with Campagnaro and Sarto his emergence offers hope to Italian fans.
13. Michele Campagnaro: 6
Put in a couple of very nice offloads and made some dashing half breaks. Always looks sparky but hasn’t quite got the experience at this level to consistently affect the game. Was unfortunately outclassed by his world-class opposite number, which is no insult.
12. Gonzalo Garcia: 4
A poor afternoon from the big 12. Got caught flatfooted for Ireland’s first try and it wasn’t the first time he was made to look vulnerable on the outside shoulder. Italy’s lack of set-piece ball didn’t allow him to generate any go forward.
11. Leonardo Sarto: 7
Italy’s most productive back, carrying for 76 metres and beating 6 defenders. Took his try exceptionally well, not for the first time in this tournament, always the sign of a top class winger. Developing into a real weapon for Italy.
10. Luciano Orquera: 7
Looked much more comfortable and confident in the jersey than the youthful Allan managed at any point in the previous three games. Offers far more variety and trickery in the 10 jersey and Italy look far more threatening with him in the side, as he carries the ball to the line and works hard without possession.
9. Tito Tibaldi: 5
Managed to match the tempo of both Murray and then Reddan, even if his forwards could not stay with him beyond the 55 minute mark. Made a few too many momentum-killing individual errors though and will not have been pleased with his own performance.
8. Robert Barbieri: 6
Showed a real range of skills, from soft hands to thumping tackles, making 23 in all. However, that high a work-rate was bound to leave a hole somewhere. That was largely at the breakdown, where Barbieri wasn’t anywhere near as effective as in previous weeks.
7. Paul Derbyshire: 5
After putting in a massive shift in the first 20, he ran out of steam and was virtually ineffectual when he came back onto the field after a head-knock. Must take a fair amount of the blame for getting nowhere at the ruck, which allowed Ireland to keep the ball for such long periods and run the Azzurri ragged.
6. Joshua Furno: 6
Not quite a repeat of his heroics against Scotland. Like his other back five team-mates he made a huge 24 tackles, but made little head way with ball in hand, with only three metres from as many carries, a poor return.
5. Marco Bortolami: 5
Huge shift, but one of the main culprits for not being able to last the distance; hardly a surprise as he isn’t getting any younger. Made only one metre carrying the ball, a reflection of the amount the defensive effort took out of him.
4. Quentin Geldunhuys: 5
Fared little better than his engine room partner, although similarly made an impressive 23 tackles. Mostly quiet in other aspects of the game, he hasn’t shown much in this tournament as part of a string of dysfunctional second row combinations.
3. Martin Castrogiovanni: 5
Managed only a handful of minutes before being replaced by Cittadini. He was sorely missed as Italy’s lack of front row depth was exposed and their scrum was put under real pressure.
2. Leonardo Ghiraldini: 4
Miscued his darts and couldn’t stop the scrum going backwards. Fought with his compatriots in the back row and nearly matched them on the tackle front, but couldn’t stem the tide.
1. Alberto Di Marchi: 4
His worst game of the tournament, he looked considerably more vulnerable without Castro opposite him. Has still had a fine campaign but will face a stern test against Dave ‘Moose’ Wilson next weekend.
By Patrick Cheshire (@jpcheshire)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images