DUBLIN: Ireland overwhelmed Italy 50-17 in an empty Aviva Stadium on Saturday to bring the long-delayed 2020 Six Nations championship back with a late rush of tries that set up a "Super Saturday" last-day shootout with title rivals France and England.
The originally scheduled clash in March was one of the first major COVID-19 sporting casualties and with the country under tough restrictions again, Ireland secured the bonus point win needed to give their fans hope of a fourth title in seven years.
Hugo Keenan and Will Connors marked their debuts with tries - winger Keenan grabbing two of them in the first half - with four more from CJ Stander, Johnny Sexton, Bundee Aki and Dave Heffernan piling potentially much needed points on the board.
Ireland move one point ahead of England and France and while the big ask of a bonus point win in Paris will guarantee them the championship, a narrower victory may not be enough as England go to Rome trailing by a points difference of 23.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)