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Deafening silence at the Aviva, Ireland solve a key issue and other things we learned from Six Nations week two

Ireland show tactical excellence; kicking a long way for success; Casey takes one for the team; revealing under-20s fixture; crowd fails to play its part

Lineout proves a winner for Ireland

Ireland earned another 13 lineouts against Italy, just as they did last week against France. And Ireland won another 13 lineouts just as they did last week. That is 26 lineouts straight that the Irish team have won in this Six Nations Championship without one lost. Ireland also scored a try from one of their lineouts. On 50 minutes James Ryan rose to the ball and the maul packed in to push. At the back of it was hooker Dan Sheehan in possession, his trademark blast from the back rewarding him with his second of the afternoon.

Anyone for rugby tennis?

Rugby tennis was there for all to see in Scotland’s game against France in Murrayfield. It was enough to make a home crowd and Royal patron Princess Anne fall silent, with various players kicking long, the opposition collecting and punting back, unmoving forwards stuck in the middle. In all during the match, there were 84 kicks breaking down to 44 for Scotland and 40 for France. Scotland kicked the ball almost a mile at 1,575m and France kicked it 1,372m. In contrast, England punted for 882m and Wales for 702m in the other match.

Casey hit hard by headbutt

It appeared like Irish scrumhalf Craig Casey was headbutted in the second half against Italy. On the 54-minute mark, it looked like an Italian player shot off his line as Ireland gathered in numbers near the Italian posts. He hit Casey directly, leading with his head, and made contact high up on the chest or even caused a head-on-head collision. English referee Luke Pearce did not stop play or refer the tackle to the TMO but allowed Ireland to continue the push for a try as Casey gingerly picked himself off the grass and played on.

Italian demolition job with Gerry Thornley and John O'Sullivan

Listen | 38:15
Italy’s under-20s stalwart Marco Scalabrin shines

The player of the match award has always been a sponsor’s vehicle and is probably right about seven times out of 10. In Friday’s Irish under-20s match, the chosen player was Ben O’Connor, who played a great game and was pivotal in keeping Ireland on the winning side. But spare a thought for Italian winger Marco Scalabrin. The 6ft 4in powerhouse scored two tries, offloaded for the third and stopped an Irish breakout run right under the Italian posts. He was the most influential man on the park. In 2022 Wales’ Josh Adams handed his Player of the Match medal to Italian fullback Ange Capuozzo.

Triumphant Ireland, but where is the noise?

The silence was deafening in the Aviva. Stone cold, downbeat quiet. Murmuring. You could hear the murmuring, especially in the second half when the benches emptied on to the pitch and Italy seemed to have shot their bolt and the game got a bit messy. And not much of a bolt was it? Even the late Irish tries got no more than a slight turn-up in volume. James Lowe barrelling in with three blue shirts on his back got barely the rise. Calvin Nash’s power try towards the end drew some clapping. But where was the noise? Where was the thunder? Where?