Ireland secured third place in the 2021 Women's Six Nations with an ultimately comfortable victory over Italy on the concluding afternoon in Donnybrook.

Last weekend's heavy defeat at home to France had copper-fastened the narrative that women's rugby in the northern hemisphere is a two-tier affair - but Ireland at least ensured they are the best of the rest for the second year running.

In a stop-start encounter, Irish success owed much to the sevens influence, out-half Stacey Flood, starting after an eye-catching cameo against France, delivered an assured performance, while wing Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe raced over for two tries in the second half.

With Ireland attacking in waves in the opening 10 minutes, Flood took a quick-tap penalty close to the try-line, feeding flanker Dorothy Wall who barreled over in the corner.

Dorothy Wall scoring Ireland's opening try

Ireland, nominally the away side, dominated territory in the opening 40 minutes, with the Italians, almost totally devoid of a kicking game, unable to get into the Irish 22 until the closing quarter.

Italy's shortcomings with the boot forced them to run from deep continually, and while they did a nifty line in offloads, the breakdown and lineout were a disaster zone for the visitors, resulting in them handing back possession to Ireland time and again.

Every Italian line-break, with their impressive back-rower Giordano usually making the burst, invariably led to the ball-carrier getting isolated and an Irish penalty at the subsequent ruck.

Playing with a slight wind at their back in the first half, Ireland's kicking game was a more potent weapon, Flood putting the Italians on the back-foot with clever grubbers.

Sene Naoupu was sin-binned 20 minutes in for a high tackle but it was Ireland who added points during her exile, Flood poking over a penalty on 28 minutes after the Italians were penalised for holding on in the ruck.

Leading 8-0 at half-time, Ireland killed the game as a contest in the third quarter.

Off a well executed lineout, the ball was popped to Wall who fed Murphy Crowe, who slalomed past a couple of tacklers to notch the score of the game.

On 51 minutes, it was another quick-tap which caught the Italians napping, hooker Cliodhna Molony thinking quickly to barge over from close range.

In a chilly main stand populated entirely by backroom staff and members of the media, whatever atmosphere was there was largely carried by the Italians' incredibly voluble and demonstrative head coach Andrea Di Giandomenico, whose voice boomed around the entire venue throughout the 80 minutes. Gesticulating wildly and hopping off his seat at regular intervals, he yelped out in pain after Italian attacks ran aground, which was very often.

Italy, who scrummed and offloaded well throughout but whose penalty count proved costly, did at least manage a foray into the Irish 22 in the final quarter.

Eventually, hooker Melissa Bettoni shunted over for a try after Leah Lyons had prevented an earlier grounding. The conversion was needed to leave them within two converted tries of the lead entering the final 10 minutes but Madia's strike didn't have the gas, dropping onto the crossbar - but it was always a fanciful hope.

The contest was done and dusted and the benches emptied at this point but there was time for another Ireland try at the death, the replacement Tyrrell skipping Lyons with a long pass, the ball bounced into Murphy Crowe's arms on the right wing and she sprinted away to round off the 2021 campaign with a 20-point win.

Ireland: Eimear Considine; Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eve Higgins, Sene Naoupu, Béibhinn Parsons; Stacey Flood, Kathryn Dane; Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney, Linda Djougang; Aoife McDermott, Nichola Fryday; Dorothy Wall, Brittany Hogan, Ciara Griffin (capt).

Replacements: Neve Jones, Laura Feely, Leah Lyons, Grace Moore, Hannah O'Connor, Emily Lane, Hannah Tyrrell, Enya Breen.

Italy: Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi; Manuela Furlan (capt), Michela Sillari, Beatrice Rigoni, Maria Magatti; Veronica Madia, Sara Barattin; Erika Skofca, Melissa Bettoni, Lucia Gai; Valeria Fedrighi, Giordana Duca; Ilaria Arrighetti, Francesca Sgorbini, Elisa Giordano.

Replacements: Lucia Cammarano, Gaia Maris, Michela Merlo, Sara Tounesi, Isabella Locatelli, Beatrice Veronese, Sofia Stefan, Aura Muzzo.

Referee: Sara Cox