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Heaslip praises clinical Ireland

Press Association logoPress Association 11/02/2017

Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip admitted it was a relief to bounce back from last week's defeat with a comprehensive 63-10 win over Italy in Rome.

CJ Sander scored a hat-trick, while Craig Gilroy also ran in three as a substitute as Ireland recorded the first try-scoring bonus point in the history of the Six Nations in a dominant performance.

It followed on from a disappointing opening day defeat to Scotland, where Ireland lost out narrowly in an entertaining tie.

The No.8, who skippered Ireland against Italy after Rory Best was ruled out with illness, said his side were flattered by the scoreline but was happy with how they recovered from last week.

"The final score put a nice shine on it," he said. "We got a few lucky bounces but worked a lot of scores.

"We were a lot more clinical, we were a bit loose at times last week, but we showed in that second half what we can do.

"We took a lot of belief from that and corrected what we did wrong and focused on what we can do."

He added: "It's nicer to win than lose. Everyone on that field is a competitor.

"We are delighted with the score and especially the second half. Italy really challenged us at times.

"Our defence was very good but there's a lot of work to be done."

Rob Kearney came from the field late in the second half with a possible bicep injury the sole negative for Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, whose side won earned the first-ever Six Nations bonus point in just over half an hour.

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