Italy had to feel good.
Inching close to the halftime break, a feisty Italian side had just finished off a resilient try that leveled the score at 10-10. After disrupting the Irish attack for most of the first half, the Italians were looking to move on from a difficult defeat two weeks ago to England. Controlling the majority of the contest, Italy let a victory slip away as Owen Farrell broke hearts from Rome to Pisa.
A tie score after a gritty first half would let the Italians regroup and rest as they tried to knock off Ireland. The Irish had other intentions.
With Italy seemingly still celebrating Captain Sergio Parisse's try, Tommy Bowe scored a try of his own from a Stephen Ferris pass that began an onslaught that included three more tries once the second half commenced. The Italians did not score again and the Irish did not look back.
The 42-10 win should put to rest any questions about a letdown after the postponement of the Ireland-France contest a fortnight ago due to an unplayable field.
After a missed penalty from Italy's No. 10, Tobias Botes, as the game resumed, his Irish counterpart Jonathan Sexton struck a perfect penalty of his own that sailed through the posts to put his side up 20-10. Another Sexton penalty was quickly followed by a second try by Bowe.
Although 20 minutes were left on the clock, the match's outcome was already decided. Despite a consistent effort from the Italian side throughout the match, they simply could not find the spark to ignite a serious comeback and the final result was never in doubt.
Tom Court bulled his way to another try in the 77th minute from about one yard outside of the white line and Andrew Trimble capped an impressive offensive performance with a galloping try just before the final whistle.
Although Italy was not helped by several key penalty misses by Botes, this game was never in doubt after halftime. After a rocky start to the match, Ireland rebounded after Bowe's first try and showed no mercy.
The Irish also welcomed back Keith Earls, who was absent from the the Wales match as he cared for his ill daughter. Earls was superb throughout the match and fullback Rob Kearney showed blazing speed and creativity.
The Irish hope this win will power them through a difficult stretch of four games in four weeks after the postponed game against France was rescheduled to March 4th.