Captain Brian O’Driscoll scored an early second-half try that broke open a tight tussle to help Ireland to a 36-6 victory over Italy on Saturday, setting up a quarterfinal with Wales in Wellington next weekend.
Winger Keith Earls also scored two second half tries for Ireland, who went unbeaten through the group phase to qualify top of Pool C, while flyhalf Ronan O’Gara slotted four penalties and converted both tries.
Jonathan Sexton added a penalty and conversion when he replaced O’Gara.
Winger Mirco Bergamasco kicked two first half penalties for the Italians, who went into the break 9-6 down and within sight of an upset that could have propelled them into the last eight for the first time.
The match was punctuated by several off-the-ball incidents with Italy’s Leonardo Ghiraldini provoking an angry response from Ireland prop Cian Healey, who claimed the hooker had eye gouged him.
Television replays showed Ghiraldini had made contact with Healy’s eyes twice. – Reuters
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