Ireland warmed up for next weekend's game against France by recording a professional 42-10 victory over Italy in Dublin on Saturday.
Ireland warmed up for next weekend's fixture against France by recording a professional 42-10 victory over Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Declan Kidney's side took their time to pull away from the Azzurri but ultimately crossed five times, two of which coming from wing Tommy Bowe.
They next play France in the re-arranged fixture after it was called-off at the last minute a fortnight ago. Italy remain pointless after three defeats.
Ireland had lost their last three outings at the Aviva Stadium and twice turned down shots at goal in favour of going for the maximum as they looked to make a point against their visitors, who took the lead through a penalty from fly-half Tobias Botes.
Sexton replied soon after and then Ireland crossed for their first try of the day following a well-worked move that saw centre Keith Earls dive in.
Italy could have reduced the arrears had Botes been successful from the tee but did find joy when Sergio Parisse crossed under the uprights, with Botes knocking over the simple extras for what looked like the last score of the half.
But that proved not to be the case as Italy were floored when Bowe went over for his first of the game before Sexton made it 17-10 at the break. In truth, neither side had earned a lead.
Upon the turnaround, Sexton added another six points as the Irish established a thirteen-point lead before the home side cut loose, denying Italy any points in the second stanza.
Excellent hands from the impressive Sexton sent Bowe over for his brace as holes began to open in Italy's defence, with Tom Court and Andrew Trimble adding final nails to the coffin.
Man of the match: But for a last-minute miss, Jonathan Sexton was on the money with all of his attempts at goal on Saturday. He added to solid kicking with an assured performance.
Moment of the match: A first international try for Tom Court. The Ulster loosehead prop powered over from all of two metres in Dublin, with his team-mates delighted for him.
Villain of the match: Nothing to report.
Tries: Earls, Bowe 2, Court, Trimble
Con: Sexton 4
Pen: Sexton 3
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Paul O'Connell (c), 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Tom Court, 18 Donnacha Ryan, 19 Peter O'Mahony, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Fergus McFadden.
Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Tobias Botes, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Fabio Staibano, 18 Antonio Pavanello, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Fabio Semenzato, 21 Kris Burton, 22 Gonzalo Canale.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), David Changleng (Scotland)
TMO: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)