Leinster Rugby duo James Ryan and Hugo Keenan, who will be both involved in their side’s Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 match against Ulster Rugby, scored a try each in Ireland’s 34-20 bonus point win over Italy in the Six Nations.

Fellow Leinster player Ross Byrne also kicked a vital nine points, while Mack Hansen scored a brace and his fellow Connacht player Bundee Aki also crossed to keep Ireland’s hopes of a grand slam alive.

Captain and lock Ryan crossed in the second minute to open the scoring in the game, but Gloucester’s Steven Varney responded with a converted try five minutes later to give the hosts the lead.

Full-back Keenan slipped through in the 13th minute to restore Ireland’s lead, with fly-half Byrne kicking the first of his three conversions, while centre Aki followed that up by crossing in the 20th minute shortly after a Paolo Garbissi penalty for Italy. 

Wing Hansen, who was awarded Man of the Match, crossed for his first try in the 35th minute seemingly to put Ireland out of sight, but a Pierro Bruno try for Italy with the clock in the red saw the two teams go in only a converted try apart with Ireland up 24-17. 

The second half was a tight affair, the Italians demonstrating impressive defensive ability to keep out the visitors, and they got within four of their opponents when Garbissi kicked a penalty. 

Eventually Ireland’s experience showed, and after a Byrne penalty re-established the seven-point lead Hansen went over in the 71st minute for a converted try to give Ireland a 34-20 win.