Despite a lackluster performance in Rome, Ireland took a step closer to achieving their Grand Slam goal as they held off a resilient Italy to earn a bonus-point victory.
Before the break, James Ryan, Hugo Keenan, Bundee Aki, and Mack Hansen each scored a try for the Irish.
But earned goals from Stephen Varney and Pierre Bruno kept the home team in the game at the half.
Hansen ensured an Irish win after enduring Italian pressure.
In relief of Johnny Sexton at fly-half, Ross Byrne scored nine points, including a crucial penalty in the 65th minute that gave Ireland a seven-point lead.
While Ireland will eventually enjoy a third straight bonus-point victory, a resurgent Italy asked Andy Farrell’s team tough questions in a game that was very different from Ireland’s crushing victory.