Despite a lackluster performance in Rome, Ireland edged out a spirited Italy to earn a bonus-point victory.
Before halftime, the Irish scored four tries through James Ryan, Hugo Keenan, Bundee Aki, and Mack Hansen.
However, Stephen Varney and Pierre Bruno goals kept the hosts in the game at halftime.
Hansen ensured an Irish victory after absorbing Italian pressure.
While Ireland will eventually celebrate a third consecutive bonus-point victory, a resurgent Italy posed serious questions to Andy Farrell’s side in a game that bore little resemblance to Ireland’s thumping win in Dublin last year.
Kieran Crowley, Italy’s head coach, will be encouraged that his players put the world’s number one side under severe pressure, making Farrell look uncomfortable for the majority of the afternoon.
The Englishman, on the other hand, will be pleased that Ireland dug deep to deliver another result and move two wins away from a Grand Slam, with Scotland up next on March 12 at Murrayfield.