Ireland v Italy: Larmour hat-trick as Ireland beat Italy 54-7 in Chicago
|Autumn internationals: Ireland 49-7 Italy|
|Ireland (14) 54|
|Tries: Beirne 2, L McGrath, Larmour 3, Cronin, Ringrose Cons: Carbery 5, Byrne 2|
|Italy (7) 7|
|Try: Campagnaro Con: Canna|
Ireland opened their autumn international series with a thumping 54-7 win over Italy in Chicago.
Jordan Larmour scored a hat-trick in an eight-try onslaught by the Six Nations champions, who put 50 points on Italy for the fourth consecutive game.
Tadhg Beirne got two tries while Luke McGrath, Sean Cronin and Garry Ringrose also scored for a new-look Irish side.
Michele Campagnaro scored Italy's only try but they could find no answer to Ireland's second-half barrage.
The Azzurri only trailed 14-7 at the break at Soldier Field and they can take some comfort from their impressive first-half display going into their next match against Georgia on 10 November.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will be pleased with the increasing strength in depth of his squad as Larmour and Beirne both made strong impressions on their first Test starts, while there were also debuts for substitutes Will Addison and Ross Byrne.
|Ireland's remaining autumn internationals|
|17 November||New Zealand|
|24 November||United States|
A return to Soldier Field
Irish rugby supporters will forever have an affinity with the home of the Chicago Bears following their historic defeat of New Zealand at the iconic Chicago stadium in 2016.
Joe Schmidt's team have risen to second place in the world rankings since that win over the All Blacks but the Ireland head coach left many of his first-choice players at home for this return to Soldier Field.
Joey Carbery, who came off the bench two years ago to make his Test debut, was handed the opportunity to prove he could be a reliable deputy to Johnny Sexton in the green number 10 shirt and he looked comfortable during his hour-long cameo.
Another Munster player looking to make an impression was Beirne, who marked his first Ireland start with two tries - the first coming with just three minutes on the clock when he claimed a lineout and then popped up seconds later to barrel his way over.
Italy head coach Conor O'Shea would have been pleased with how his under-strength team responded to the early Irish bombardment as the Azzurri gradually began to build pressure and were unfortunate not to score when Abraham Steyn was judged to have knocked-on while attempting to ground the ball off the base of the posts.
Against the run of play, Ireland added a second try in the 33rd minute when Larmour showed the electric footwork that earned him a nomination for World Rugby's Breakthrough Player of the Year award to create an easy score for Luke McGrath.
Italy deservedly got on the scoreboard just before the break when Campagnaro read a pre-rehearsed Irish attack and intercepted opposing captain Rhys Ruddock's inside pass to score under the posts.
Irish evolution continues
Ireland's Grand Slam victory this year was built on ferocious defence and an ability to retain possession for long periods before creating chances for Jacob Stockdale to score but their style of play is constantly evolving under Schmidt.
Any criticism of Ireland has centred on their limited attacking edge but their second-half performance demonstrated a more expansive approach.
Two tries within six minutes of the restart effectively decided the result and allowed the men in green to attack at every opportunity.
In a repeat of the opening half, Beirne was first on the scoreboard - picking a superb angle to gallop onto Luke McGrath's short pass - and he was quickly followed by Larmour as he plucked Campagnaro's wayward pass out of the air and sprinted clear from halfway.
Half-time substitute Sean Cronin was next to score as the Leinster hooker was at the tail of a well-ordered lineout maul that scattered the Italy pack on its way across the line.
The organisers of the Chicago fixture are hoping the meeting of two Six Nations rivals will help to increase interest in rugby among sports fans in the United States and they would have been delighted by Ireland's sparkling performance in the final 20 minutes.
Larmour was a threat from every corner of the field and the full-back scorched down the left wing to score his second after Ringrose had cleverly drawn two Italian defenders.
Bundee Aki's powerful run set-up a try for Ringrose just minutes later with the outside centre showing his turn of pace to scoot around the covering defence in the right corner.
Italy went in search of a consolation score but they lost possession deep inside the Ireland 22 in the 79th minute and could only watch helplessly as Larmour danced and weaved his way past several weary tacklers to score a sensational 80-metre try for an emphatic final flourish.
'We were inaccurate at times'
Ireland captain Rhys Ruddock on Premier Sports: "We've really enjoyed the experience of playing in Chicago and it was a tough Test match against Italy.
"We knew we were a bit inaccurate at times in the first half so we wanted to play with more tempo in the second and hold onto the ball for longer. We managed to do that and the scoreline maybe flattered us a bit."
Ireland: Larmour; Conway, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale; Carbery, L McGrath; J McGrath, Scannell, Porter, Beirne, Roux, Ruddock (capt), van der Flier, Conan
Replacements: Cronin for Scannell (41), Kilcoyne for J McGrath (50), Bealham for Porter (57), Toner for Beirne (60), Murphy for van der Flier (67), Cooney for L McGrath (64), Byrne for Carbery (60), Addison for Stockdale (60)
Italy: Sperandio; Bellini, Campagnaro (capt), Morisi, Bisegni; Canna, Tebaldi; Quaglio, Bigi, Pasquali, Fuser, Biagi, Meyer, Steyn, Giammarioli
Replacements: Fabiani for Bigi (63), Traore for Quaglio (22), Zilocchi for Pasquali (60), Lazzaroni for Fuser (63), Ruzza for Biagi (55), Tuivatti for Giammarioli (55), Palazzani for Morisi (69), McKinley for Canna (60)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)