DUBLIN, Ireland - Ireland outperformed Italy in Dublin on Saturday to win 50-17, despite playing in an empty stadium.
However the Irish team will need to repeat that against France next Saturday in Paris to assure themselves of the Six Nations title.
"There was a lot of good play today," captain Johnny Sexton said after the game on Saturday. "However, France are an outstanding team and we have our work cut out.
The Italians had caught the Irish on the hop early on.
It was, though, a false dawn for the visitors.
Frequent indiscipline by the Italians prevented them making inroads into the Irish 22.
As Keenan trotted back to the halfway line, Sexton converted brilliantly from the touchline for 17-3.
Sexton converted for a 24-3 half-time lead and leaving them one try shy of the bonus point win.
Debutant Hugo Keenan impressed with two fist-half tries, playing a major part Ireland attaining the much-needed bonus point.
Right on the buzzer, replacement hooker Dave Heffernan added another try, three years after he made his previous Test appearance.