Ireland captain Johnny Sexton admitted that frustration had played a part in their performance as they hammered Italy for a first win in this year's Guinness Six Nations.

Andy Farrell’s charges ran in six tries in Rome against a desperately poor home side, who have now lost 30 championship games in a row.

The bonus point win comes too late to get them back in the mix for the title and the out-half conceded that there are likely to be regrets at the end of the campaign, which concludes with an away trip to Scotland and a Dublin date with England.

We need your consent to load this comcast-player contentWe use comcast-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

"We came in for some flak over the last few weeks but internally, as a group I don’t think we’ve ever been more confident about where we are going and what we can produce," he said.

"I mean that. With the coaches that we have, with the leadership group coming out of their shells and improving their leadership, I think that this group is on the right trajectory and I properly believe it." 

Asked if the performance in the 48-10 win came from frustration or was just the result of patience following defeats to Wales and France, the Leinster man said: "A little bit of both. If you think about the Wales game, we played the game with 14 men, we think that we would have played [that well] in that game [with 15].

"We were a bit frustrated after the French game in terms of the things that we had talked about during the week, we didn’t deliver on, things that we were told during the week, we didn’t deliver on.

"That was the frustrating part, we’ll probably look back with regret in terms of we didn’t play to our potential and we didn’t execute the game plan as best we could.

"Each game has been different and today was the accumulation of the weeks coming together a little bit. It doesn’t mean everything is fixed now.

"We’ve got to keep improving. Going to Murrayfield is always and incredible tough game and then a six-day turnaround to England. It’s still all to do. If we get a couple of results in our last couple of games it will be an okay championship.

"It’ll be one that might have been but we want to finish on a high." 

Tadhg Beirne was named man of the match

Asked to assess the comfortable win in the Stadio Olimpico, Sexton told RTÉ Sport: "Some brilliant stuff, especially first half, I thought we were outstanding. 

"It was very frustrating to concede before half-time but our intent and our concentration, how clinical we were at times was very pleasing and stuff that we’ve been taught and we’ve been learning in training finally came out in glimpses today so I am happy for everyone, I’m happy for the coaching staff." 

Scotland, who beat England and lost to Wales, and will have a game in hand following the postponement due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the France camp this week, are next up for Andy Farrell’s side.

The Ireland camp were keen to bask in the aftermath of a first win in four championship games, including last season, but Sexton added that the tie with Gregor Townsend’s men will not be as straightforward.

Ireland player ratings v Italy

"I think it will be a step up," said Sexton, who kicked eight from eight at goal.

"To be honest, I’d just like to enjoy today. The boys have worked incredibly hard over the last four or five weeks. We’ve been incredibly frustrated that we didn’t get the results that the work we put in, we felt we deserved. We got it today.

"We just want to enjoy today. We'll learn from things from our performance, what kept them in the game, in terms of our discipline. We definitely can’t do that over in Murrayfield, some soft penalties.

"I don’t want to talk too much about Scotland at this stage, we’ll just enjoy tonight and we’ll refocus when we meet back up." 

The 35-year-old scored 18 points from the boot and moved to the centre for the last stages of the game with Billy Burns stepping into the 10 slot.

Speaking to reporters after the game he revealed the switch had been planned and reserved special praise for provincial team-mate Robbie Henshaw, who has now won a half century of caps. 

"I've been training at 12 during the week at times, like I have for the first two games as well," he said. 

"I suppose it’s an option the coaches can have if they feel we need to open the game up a bit. I though Robbie was outstanding, best player on the park for me.

"Fiftieth cap and sometimes when you get up to a milestone like that...I remember my 50th cap and you get a presentation and you get a bit emotional at times and it can take away from your performance.

"You feel a bit drained. The way that he played was just outstanding. He was the best player on the park."

Following a series of games with club and country where Sexton found himself being replaced before the end, he joked: "[Robbie] deserves his rest for 15 minutes and I don’t know how I played 80, I never play 80."