Larmour hat-trick blows the Italians away in Windy City
LEINSTER star Jordan Larmour blew red hot in the Windy City as the Irish went on an impressive eight-try scoring spree.
Full-back Larmour showed the sort of speed, skill and flair which has made him one of the game’s most exciting players. He grabbed a stunning hattrick to leave Italian defenders choking in his wake.
Munster lock Tadhg Beirne also weighed in with a couple of tries and a towering performance as Joe Schmidt’s men turned on the style.
The men in green flew out the blocks at Soldier’s Field and Ireland cruised into an early 14-0 lead creating two fine tries. They could easily have had more before the Italians halved that advantage on the stroke of half-time.
A driving maul split apart the Italian defence and Tadhg Beirne reached over the line for a try on his debut with Joey Carbery adding the extras. And when Leinster Luke McGrath finished off a fine move sparked by Jordan Larmour’s powerful driving run it was the perfect start for Joe Schmidt’s men.
Yet, just as the Irish fans were contemplating queuing for their half-time hotdogs, their heroes were given a reminder that the Italians were not about to surrender easily on American soil.
An alert Michele Campagnaro spotted his big chance as he intercepted Rhys Ruddock’s inside pass and there was no green jersey in sight as he raced across the line and behind the posts to give Carlo Canna an easy conversion.
It was a lapse in concentrating and decisionmaking which would have irritated Schmidt, who no doubt gave his players something of a lambasting during the break.
Whatever he said it worked wonders with more heavy pressure on the Italian line at the beginning of the second half seeing the impressive Beirne bursting through weak tackling and crossing for his second try.
Carbery converted once more and it was not long before the fly-half was repeating the act, albeit from a much more acute angle, after Larmour intercepted Campagnaro’s pass, applied the accelerator and roared in untouched.
Schmidt will be pleased with the opening performance in an Autumn campaign which moves up a gear against Argentina in Dublin next Saturday and then a few more when the world champions All Blacks arrive seven days later.
Sean Cronin finished off another driving maul with the big No.8 dropping down with ball in hand and referee Nigel Owens having enough of a view to award the try.
Carbery’s conversion stretched the lead to 35-7 and it was just a matter of how many tries Ireland could muster. Well, the Italian tackling failed to improve as two weak efforts to try and stop Larmour bursting clear barely halted the Irishman in his stride. He strolled over for his second try and Ross Byrne, who had replaced Carbery, converted.
Centre Garry Ringrose joined the scoring spree but it was Larmour who had the final say, racing from inside his own half to complete his hat-trick.
Treble: Ireland full-back Jordan Larmour