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Live Reporting

Jonathan Jurejko

All times stated are UK

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  1. Goodbye!

    Italy say goodbye, Ireland say hello. To the quarter-finals of the World Cup of course. And it is also time for us to say cheerio - until Tuesday when the World Cup resumes with Canada v Romania and Uruguay v Fiji.

    And talking of farewells, a big-name Premier League football manager is leaving his job. Who? Head over to our live reaction page to find out...

  2. Coach reaction - Schmidt

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt on next weekend's table-topping clash against France: "France are another level up - we will have to raise our game again. We work on that this week and hopefully we can come up with the goods."

  3. Coach reaction - Schmidt

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt: "That game was exactly what we expected. We have been allowed to cruise through the first two games and it was shock to the system to come against a tier one side who needed to win to stay in the tournament.

    "I said last week we'd take a one-point win, so a seven-point win is good enough."

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  5. Stats of the day

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    • Ireland have now won 20 of their last 21 games against Italy
    • However, this was Ireland’s narrowest victory over the Azzurri since February 2011 having won by 23+ points in each of their four wins since then
  6. Pool D as it stands

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Sorry for sounding like a broken record but it is important. Very important. Ireland's win books their place in the quarter-finals, while Italy's wait to reach the knockout stage for the first time goes on. And here's the confirmation....

    Pool D table
  7. Full-time

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Josh Furno

    Ireland shaded most departments against Italy, but one stat really jumps out - at the line-out. No pun intended there...

    The Italians failed to collect 12 of their 17 throws, while Ireland continued their impeccable line-out record in the tournament - winning all 10 of their attempts.

  8. Full-time

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Nail on head. Former Welsh international Scott Quinnell sums up the Ireland result rather succinctly.

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  10. Player reaction - O'Connell

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Paul O'Connell

    Ireland captain Paul O'Connell: "We have won and are into the quarter-finals,  that's the bonus. It was a disappointing performance, very inaccurate, and we have put too much ball down. When we do that we can't play our game and it interrupted our rhythm. A great try-saving tackle from Peter O'Mahony saved the game for us.

    "It is going to be a massive game against France, who are playing good rugby. We have to massively improve from this performance."

  11. Ireland 16-9 Italy

    The Irish also made more metres (386-300), made more carries (126-105) and beat more defenders (20-10).

    The one stat that Italy did dominate was the number of tackles made - 146 to Ireland's 90.

    It may have been a hard-fought win for Joe Schmidt's men, but it was a win nonetheless.

  12. Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Full-time action areas

    The full-time action areas suggest that, while Italy kept them honest, Ireland deserved their victory, with 57% of the possession and having had the better of the territory.

  13. A win's a win

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    David Humphreys

    Former Ireland fly-half on Radil Ulster

    The win is the important thing. It is three wins out of three and Ireland are in good shape going into the final pool game against France. Next Sunday's game is absolutely huge. They have both qualified and the aim now is to avoid the All Blacks.

  14. Full-time

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Tommy Bowe and Peter O'Mahony

    The Irish victory means Joe Schmidt's men are assured of a place in the quarter-finals. And that sets up a humdinger of a final game against France - the winner taking the group and avoiding the All Blacks in the last eight.

    No such luck for the Italians though. The Azzurri are heading home. After their final Pool D match against Romania of course.

    Leonardo Sarto
  15. Full-time

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    And that's it - all over! Johnny Sexton receives the ball and sticks his boot straight through it to find touch. Ireland needed to win - by hook or by crook - and that is exactly what they have done.

  16. Missed penalty

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    This to seal the match then. But Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton drags the kick left of the posts. Don't worry too much though, Ireland fans, there are just seconds left on the clock...

  17. Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Keith Earls

    Zebo is in the thick of the forward running, but then wastefully throws a forward pass as he looks for Tommy Bowe in support. Hang on - the referee doesn't give it! And then Italy give away a kickable penalty for obstruction...

  18. Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Untidy stuff from the Ireland pack allows Italy to counter down the right flank, but an offload goes stray and allows Simon Zebo to gather. Chance gone. And that sets up an Ireland attack...

  19. Post update

    Denis Hickie

    Former Ireland winger on BBC Radio 5 live

    Johnny Sexton

    "Ireland haven't clicked and they haven't looked like a team that can go on and win the World Cup. It just hasn't really happened for them today."

  20. Ireland 16-9 Italy

    The Olympic Stadium

    How are your nerves Ireland fans? A poor throw from Italy hooker David Giazzon goes long over his team-mates, allowing Johnny Sexton to hammer clear into touch and ease the pressure.

  21. Sin-bin - Peter O'Mahony

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Peter O'Mahony is shown a yellow card

    Ireland have been dominant at the line-out today, but can't nick another Italian set-piece inside their own 22. Azzurri scrum-half Edoardo Gori boots clear the danger, but referee Jerome Garces decides to collar Peter O'Mahony for a high tackle. The Frenchman shows the yellow card. The Irishman cannot believe it.

  22. Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Ten minutes left in this tight Pool D game. Can Ireland hang on? They should do. But they might have to do it with 14 men, however...

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  24. Replacement

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Another raft of changes sees Ireland introduce Devin Toner and Chris Henry, while Italy throw veteran Mauro Bergamasco into the fray.

  25. Missed penalty

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Carlo Canna

    The first job of the afternoon for Carlo Canna - Tommasso Allan's replacement - is to line up a kick at goal. But the Italy fly-half's kick from close to the halfway line lacks the legs and drops short of the Irish posts.

  26. Replacement

    Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Sergio Parisse

    Time for a Italian change - and one that is not unexpected. Talisman Sergio Parisse - playing his first World Cup match after injury - trudges off after battling through an hour, despite only returning to training on Tuesday after a calf injury. Fly-half Tommaso Allan is also replaced.

  27. Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Dave Kearney

    Ireland, whose overall possession percentage has now ticked up to 58%, are also starting to dominate the other attacking numbers.

    They've now made now metres (299-223), more carries (102-77) and beaten more defenders (14-5).

    Although how many of those beaten defenders is actually just Simone Favaro being given the runaround, we can't confirm...

  28. Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Little under 20 minutes left. That's 20 minutes for Ireland to hold on and book their quarter-final sport. Or it is 20 minutes for Italy to mount a courageous comeback and save their World Cup skins?

    Listen to this fascinating second half on BBC Radio 5 live by clicking on the speaker symbol at the top left hand side of the page.

  29. Penalty - Ireland 16-9 Italy

    Johnny Sexton

    Jonny Sexton kicks a penalty

    More Italian indiscipline - a sign that they are getting a little leggy? - gives Johnny Sexton another shot at goal. More silence from the crowd, before more brilliance from the Irish fly-half's trusty right peg.

  30. Replacement

    Ireland 13-9 Italy

    Time for a double Ireland change in the front row. On come Cian Healy and Nathan White.

  31. Ireland 10-9 Italy

    Simone Favaro misses a tackle on Robbie Henshaw

    We mentioned Simone Favaro's impressive tackling stats earlier on, but he's not been quite so imperious in this second half.

    He's now missed five tackles - which is more than the rest of the Italy team put together (nine in total).

  32. Penalty - Ireland 13-9 Italy

    Johnny Sexton

    A hush around the Olympic Stadium as Johnny Sexton lines up his fourth kick of the afternoon, teeing up just to the right of the Italian posts inside the 22. No problem for the Irish fly-half. Three more points nudge his team further ahead.

  33. Post update

    Ireland 10-9 Italy

    Here is the Irish onslaught. Johnny Sexton hangs a cross kick in the autumn air, knowing that Ireland have an advantage after an earlier Italian faux pas at the breakdown. Robbie Henshaw challenges for the high ball, but it wriggles out of his grasp. So the referee brings it back for the earlier offence...

  34. Post update

    Denis Hickie

    Former Ireland winger on BBC Radio 5 live

    Peter O'Mahony is tackled

    "Great pressure from Ireland but there's still an inability to make a clean break and get through the Italian defence. That worries me when they're taking it through phases, like they are."

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  37. Time for changes

    David Humphreys

    Former Ireland fly-half on Radio Ulster

    "This is the stage of the game where you look at the strength of the benches, and see what impact they can make. People like Luke Fitzgerald, Devin Toner and Chris Henry will have to come on and make a difference."

  38. Ireland 10-9 Italy

    Ireland coach Joe Schmidt looks pretty glum, hand on chin, as he assess the danger from his lofty position in the Olympic Stadium stands. Irish fans - if they didn't realise it before - know their side are involved in a scrap. "Ireland, Ireland!" rings around as they throw their support behind the men in green.

    A maul
  39. Penalty - Ireland 10-9 Italy

    Tommaso Allan

    Italy might have been denied the chance of seven points, but the next best thing is to add three on their side of the scoreboard shortly after. Tommaso Allan gratefully accepts the chance to fire a penalty at the sticks, confidently walloping an arrow of a kick straight through. We have a game on our hands!

  40. No try

    Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Josh Furno is tackled short of the try line

    Italy denied, Ireland relieved. Sensational last-ditch tackle from Irish back rower O'Mahony, who shoves Furno to ensure the Italian's left-foot touches the whitewash. No try.

  41. Try review

    Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Josh Furno is tackled short of the try line

    Ireland commit a lot of numbers to that attack and are susceptible to some serious danger on the counter. Italian second-rower Josh Furno scampers down the left touchline  and manages to get the ball down - he thinks. But did Peter O'Mahony bundle him into touch first? Let's go to the TMO to find out....

  42. Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Ireland steal the ball at an Italian line-out - not for the first time. Quick hands along the line give the Irish a sniff out wide left, but they lose possession and Italy burst forward...

  43. Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Sergio Parisse clears the ball

    Oooh and aaahs from the Irish-dominated crowd as Iain Henderson charges down a Tommaso Allan kick inside the Italian 22. The Italy scrum-half scampers back to recover the ball before his skipper Sergio Parisse hacks the ball clear to alleviate the pressure.

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  45. Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Italy go straight on the attack, but hand over possession when Sergio Parisse is penalised for holding on. Italy's bald number eight coughs up the penalty after some intense pressure in the breakdown from Irish second rower Paul O'Connell. 

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  47. Kick-off

    Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Ireland fans

    Team-talks over, water levels topped up, minor knocks tended to. Half-time is over for both camps. Ireland's Johnny Sexton drop kicks the match back under way. Game on!

  48. Half-time

    Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Half-time action areas

    There's been nothing to separate the teams in terms of possession, and the attacking stats have been pretty close too. 

    Ireland have made 176 metres to Italy's 156, 60 carries to their 62 and 56 tackles to their 68.

    In contrast to the match between Argentina and Tonga, which saw 63 missed tackles across the 80 minutes, there have been just nine in the first half at the Olympic Stadium.

  49. Half-time

    Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Any half-time thoughts Ireland fans? Put yourself in Joe Schmidt's shoes for a moment - what would you been saying to your men in that sweaty dressing room? Tweet your 140-word team-talks to #bbcrugby. And that applies to you too Italy fans...

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  51. Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Robbie Henshaw

    Fit-again centre Robbie Henshaw has reminded Ireland exactly what he has to offer during that first half. Henshaw, who missed the opening two World Cup games, starred in both attack and defence during the first half, setting up Keith Earls' try and coming second only to Jack McGrath (8) for tackles made.

  52. Testing times for Ireland

    Ireland 10-6 Italy

    David Humphreys

    Former Ireland fly-half on Radio Ulster

    Sergio Parisse is tackled by Tommy Bowe

    "Italy have caused Ireland some problems but Ireland won't be too concerned going in at half-time. This is precisely the kind of test that they need at this stage of the World Cup."

  53. Half-time

    Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Half-time score
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  55. Post update

    Denis Hickie

    Former Ireland winger on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Joe Schmidt will be worried about this side's discipline, giving away penalties in their own 22, looking after the ball in contact. But overall, if Ireland can keep this tempo up I'd expect them to be in control of this match after 60 minutes."

  56. Half-time

    Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Paul O'Connell wins a line-out

    Italy thought they had made it to the break without further punishment after that scrum infringement. But they almost came a cropper after switching off in the dying moments. The Azzurri lose the line out and, after Ireland quickly move the ball out left, Keith Earls almost dances his way through a gap. However, his offload finds touch and that brings the first half to an end.

  57. Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Jamie Heaslip

    Italy will be happy to see this through to the break. Scrum time - and you can bet your bottom Euro that the Italians will be looking to force an Irish error here. That is exactly what they do, prop Matias Aguero milking a scrum infringement to give his team some valuable breathing space.

  58. Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Paul O'Connell in a maul

    Ireland drive forward with the Italian pack looking vulnerable. But they are let off the hook! Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray fumbles the ball and the chance goes down the drain. A mixture of frustration and anger is etched over Murray's face...

  59. Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Italy are caught offside in their own 22, Ireland kick into touch. Cue huge Irish roar. Rory Best finds his man...Ireland push for the line...

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    No luck of the Irish so far.

  61. Get involved

    Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Sean O'Brien

    What are you thinking then Ireland fans? Satisfied with the opening half hour? Worried by Italy's threat or confident your side will comfortably see them off after the break? Get involved using #bbcrugby or text 81111.

  62. Missed penalty

    Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Johnny Sexton has another chance to add to Ireland's score after Quintin Geldenhuys lifts the legs of his opponent in the tackle. But this time the fly-half's usually reliable boot lets him down, the ball pinging against the right post and crashing back down into the hands of a grateful Sergio Parisse.

  63. Post update

    Denis Hickie

    Former Ireland winger on BBC Radio 5 live

    Ireland's Dave Kearney is tackled

    "I didn't think that was a pick and dump tackle but the officials are getting pretty hot on player protection rules, and that's a positive rather than a negative."

  64. Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Simone Favaro tackles Simon Zebo

    Ireland have had to make more tackles than Italy in this first 30 minutes (48 to 44), but Italy flanker Simone Favaro tops the individual charts with eight.

  65. Post update

    David Humphreys

    Former Ireland fly-half on Radio Ulster

    Sergio Parisse

    "Parisse is at the centre of everything good that Italy are doing. He has thrown several great passes and has the vision of a fly-half."

  66. Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Ireland steal an Italian line-out

    Irish indiscipline gives Italy another sniff. This time the Irish are punished for not releasing in their own half, but redeem themselves by nabbing the line-out when the Italians kick into touch. The Irish have been dominant in the set-piece so far, winning all of their three line-outs.

  67. Post update

    David Humphreys

    Former Ireland fly-half on Radio Ulster

    Giovanbattista Venditti

    "Italy have made an impressive start. Their shape and accuracy has been excellent so far and they are trying to create overlaps as well, which is something we maybe weren't expecting."

  68. Penalty - Ireland 10-6 Italy

    Tommaso Allan

    Tommaso Allan kicks a penalty

    Two penalties, six points. Tommaso Allan produces another crisp strike off the tee from a central position. The Olympic Stadium is predominantly Irish today, but there's a healthy number of Italians in the crowd judging by the cheer which greets the score.

  69. Penalty

    Ireland 10-3 Italy

    Right, let's see what response Italy can muster. Quite a good one as it happens. Sergio Parisse - their talismanic number eight - goes on the charge and a couple of phases later the Irish are punished again for not rolling away. Another chance for Tommaso Allan...

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    Record breaker!

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    Jolly green giant.

  72. Post update

    Denis Hickie

    Former Ireland winger

    Keith Earls celebrates

    "Great go-forward from Henderson, Earls followed Henshaw through the gap and finished it off. It was great centre play by Ireland."

  73. Converted try - Ireland 10-3 Italy

    Keith Earls, con Johnny Sexton

    Keith Earls scores a try

    Breakthrough for Ireland! Joe Schmidt's men disrupt the Italian lineout for the first time - and it pays dividends. The hard-working pack set up the platform by going round the corner before the recycled ball is popped back inside by Robbie Henshaw for fellow centre Keith Earls to scamper through.

    Johnny Sexton knocks over the extras from in front of the sticks and there is light between the two teams.

  74. Ireland 3-3 Italy

    Italy have edged the opening quarter of an hour, also having had the better of the metres made and carries stats.

    Action areas
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  76. Penalty - Ireland 3-3 Italy

    Tommaso Allan

    No problem for Italy fly-half Tommaso Allan. He eyes up the target, then confidently slot over the kick. All square and that's what the Italians deserve.

  77. Penalty

    Ireland 3-0 Italy

    Italy go on the offensive again, forcing Ireland into conceding a penalty. Irish hands in the ruck is the offence, we are told. Italy decide to go for goal from just inside the Irish 22...

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    Injured Italian centre Andrea Masi shows his support from the sofa.

  79. Ireland 3-0 Italy

    A huge roar goes around the Olympic Stadium as the sides contest their first scrum of the match. "First scrum - very important. Stay on your shoulders," says French referee Jerome Garces. Italy's pack is slightly heavier than their Irish counterparts, and the Azzurri come out of the first heave with the ball.

  80. Penalty - Ireland 3-0 Italy

    Johnny Sexton

    Johnny Sexton kicks a penalty

    You didn't doubt him, did you? Of course not. Johnny Sexton sticks his size 10 cleanly  through the ball, clipping it over the posts. Easy peasy.

  81. Penalty

    Ireland 0-0 Italy

    Early chance for Ireland as they win a penalty in front of the posts. The Olympic Stadium falls silent as Johnny Sexton, unsurprisingly, tees up a kick at goal...

  82. Post update

    Denis Hickie

    Former Ireland winger

    "In critical games like this you need to score points when you apply pressure - Italy will be disappointed they were unable to come away with some points there, whether through a try or a penalty."

  83. Replacement

    Ireland 0-0 Italy

    Gonzalo Garcia

    "Come in number 12, you're time is up." Bad news for Italy as centre Gonzalo Garcia trudges off in the opening stages through injury. Garcia looks distraught as he grazes his gingery beard back on the bench, after being replaced by Tommaso Benvenuti.

    But the change doesn't disrupt the Azzurri too much as they go on the offensive. Ireland's defence remains firm though .

  84. Ireland 0-0 Italy

    No success at the set-piece yet for the Irish, Italian hooker Andrea Manici finding a blue shirt with both of his opening throws.

  85. Ireland 0-0 Italy

    First handling error from the Italians gives possession back to the Irish, who made progress into opposition territory thanks to the trusty right peg of Johnny Sexton.

  86. Kick-off

    Ireland 0-0 Italy

    Italy fly-half Tommaso Allan has the honour of kicking off this Pool D match - which is exactly what he does. Game on!

  87. Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    The Web Ellis trophy

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a very important guest on the Olympic Stadium touchline. Nope, not a member of the Royal Family, or David is the William Webb Ellis trophy! That beautiful piece of gold glistens in the east London sunshine before being carried off to a safer vantage point. Time to go...

  88. Ireland tipped to win

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    David Humphreys

    Former Ireland fly-half on BBC Radio Ulster

    I think we will see another very well organised Ireland performance. Maybe not showing a huge amount but doing enough to win the game by a similar margin to the 36-6 win over Italy at the last World Cup.

    A lot of the Italian players have got a little bit older and the probably don’t have the same physical threat that they had two, three, four years ago. Parisse is their one world-class player. Even when they are beaten, he invariably looks outstanding but will he be able to produce his best after his recent injury problems?

  89. Anthem time

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    Ireland fans

    Ear-splitting noise as the two teams stroll out of the Olympic Stadium, with swathes of green are covering all four sides of the ground.

    Quick reminder before kick-off that you can listen to all the action (as well as hanging on our every word of course...) by tuning into BBC Radio 5 live sports extra or BBC Radio Ulster.

    If you're quick you will hear rousing renditions of both national anthems...

    The Ireland team during the national anthem
  90. Post update

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, now back in the Olympic Stadium tunnel, on ITV1: "We're not trying to avoid anyone in the quarter-finals -we're just trying to get ourselves into the last eight. Lose today and it is a three way race for the quarter-finals. 

    On Robbie Henshaw's inclusion: "He brings stability to our defence, in the Six Nations he was our best tackler. He's got a strong carry and passing game and his work-rate means he will contribute right the way through."

  91. Joe's hands-on approach

    Ireland coach Joe Schmidt takes part the in warm-up at the Olympic Stadium
    Image caption: Ireland coach Joe Schmidt took an active part in his side's warm-up at the Olympic Stadium
  92. Win or bust for Italy

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    John Haughey

    BBC Sport NI at the Olympic Stadium

    "After losing warm-up games against Wales and England, Ireland appeared back to their well-drilled and efficient selves in the opening wins over Canada and Romania."Italy’s struggle in edging out Canada 23-18 suggests the Irish should win comfortably but the Azzurri welcome back talisman Sergio Parisse who missed their opening two matches."It’s win or bust for Italy. More likely to be the latter for a side that defeated Ireland as recently as the 2013 Six Nations."  

  93. History on Ireland's side

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    Ireland v Italy
  94. 'Parisse provides the X Factor'

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    Sergio Parisse

    Now I don't know whether Simon Cowell is a rugby union man or not, but if the high-trousered music mogul is watching the action in the Olympic Stadium then he would surely spot the talents of Italian powerhouse Sergio Parisse.

    Italy were without the number eight against France and Canada, but have rushed him back from injury to face the Irish in a bid to provide a magic spark.

    “That’s what we’ve missed, hopefully he will be on the pitch with us and he can bring that calmness and X-factor,” says team-mate Quintin Geldenhuys. “We need something extra and hopefully he can give it to us.”  

  95. Italy team news

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    Italy make five changes from the win against Canada - with one new name instantly leaping out of the team-sheet.

    Sergio Parisse, their talismanic number eight,  returns after missing the first two matches with a calf injury. Elsewhere Andrea Manici replaces injured hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, with Matias Aguero, Simone Favaro and centre Michele Capagnaro also drafted in.  

    Italy team news
  96. Ireland team news

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    Ireland boss Joe Schmidt makes 11 changes from the 44-10 win over Romania with only Simon Zebo, Keith Earls, Tommy Bowe and Jamie Heaslip retained.

    Zebo stays at full-back because Rob Kearney (hip) is not being risked, while Earls switches to centre alongside fit-again Robbie Henshaw.

    Henshaw tastes his first World Cup action after a hamstring twinge ruled him out of the opening games.

    Ireland team
  97. Post update

  98. Ireland aim to progress

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    John Haughey

    BBC Sport NI at Olympic Stadium

    "For the second World Cup Sunday in a row, Ireland are back in action, almost under the radar, after a Saturday night of Twickenham tumult.

    "Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won’t mind the majority of the rugby world’s attentions being focused on the hosts’ stunning World Cup exit as his Six Nations champions look to book their place in the last eight."

  99. Pool D as it stands

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    So far Pool D has been more predictable than the sun setting in the evening. France and Ireland have won all their games, Canada and Romania have lost all their games, Italy are scrapping around in the middle.

    And that makes today's permutations quite simple. Ireland are through if they avoid defeat. Italy are out if they do not win.

    Pool D
  100. It's a sea of green

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    One corner of east London is having an Irish-themed party. And if you're not wearing green then you ain't coming in. The Olympic Park is packed with Irish fans - it is like a home game for Joe Schmidt's side.

    Fans in the fan zone at the Olympic Stadium before the World Cup Group D game Between Ireland and Italy.
  101. Post update

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    And that takes us back to that 11-lettered, four-syllabled word which can be heavier than a Toulouse pack...expectation.

    Because Ireland - the best team in the northern hemisphere - are not only expected by many of their supporters to cruise into the last eight, but also to reach the last four.

    Ireland have already picked off Canada and Romania with consummate ease, are fancied to do the same against Italy today, thus setting up an almighty scrap with France for the right to top Pool D.

    That honour, of course, would mean avoiding the All Blacks in the last eight, setting up an easy path into the semi-finals. In theory at least...

    Ireland v Italy
  102. Post update

    Ireland v Italy (16:45 BST)

    But we've been here before, haven't we? Ireland's 'golden generation' were expected to go deep into the 2007 World Cup - then got pitched alongside France and Argentina in that tournament's Group of Death. And Eddie O'Sullivan's side were bludgeoned by their pool rivals.

    Failure to reach the knockout stage in France remains Ireland's worst performance at a World Cup. Eight years later, they will match their best by beating Italy today and reaching the quarter-finals.

    Rugby World Cup
  103. Post update

    Expectation is omnipresent in elite sport. Expectation from the media. Expectation from your supporters. Expectation from the players themselves.

    Some nations have shown they can cope and thrive under this lead-like weight. The All Blacks at the last World Cup, for example. Others, like *cough cough* England, have crumbled.

    Ireland, unlike those two examples, are not burdened by being the host nation. But back-to-back Six Nations mean the millions watching from across the Irish Sea - and around the world - are expecting Joe Schmidt's side to produce their nation's best World Cup performance.

    Some - gulp - even reckon they are going to win it...

    Rugby World Cup 2015