A second half blitz saw Ireland comfortably defeat the USA Eagles 57-14 after a tough first half.
Andrew Conway grabbed a hat trick while, Jack Conan, Tadhg Beirne, Stuart McCloskey, Quinn Roux and John Ryan chipped in with tries.
Ireland got on the board early and Conway helped set a quick tempo. The Munsterman weaved in an out of tacklers before finding Rhys Ruddock who attracted the attention of the last man and put Conway in for the first try.
USA used their forwards to gain a platform in the Irish 22 and looked dangerous when the ball was moved wide due to the narrow Irish defence. Their endeavor paid off and Joe Taufete’e crossed after beating four Irish defenders and finishing a trick play move off a lineout.
Ireland returned to the American 22 and left with another 22. Garry Ringrose made the line break and relentlessly recycled ball proved too difficult for USA to deal with as Will Addison finds the space to offload to Conway for his second try.
USA lay down a marker with their strong forward dominated game in the build up to the first try and they would get more joy out of it as Ben O’Keeffe marched under the posts to award a penalty try after Iain Henderson brought a rumbling maul down as it looked destined to cross the line. That try sparked a deathly silence around the Aviva Stadium but Joey Carbery regained the lead for Ireland with a penalty on 26 minutes.
While USA exposed a few vulnerabilities in the Irish defence in the first half, offensively Ireland looked sharp. The ball carriers ran at speed and found gaps in the American defence and once the gainline was broken a try was inevitable. Conway turned provider for Ireland’s third try as he popped to Jack Conan in a one on one situation.
Tadhg Beirne grabbed his third try for Ireland in November to put daylight between the sides 12 minutes into the second half. Ireland opened the play book in this match which inevitably led to a number of knock ons due to players not having played together before.
Ireland restricted USA’s possession in the second half and therefore prevented them from asking too many questions. Ross Byrne found Stuart McCloskey with a cross kick for his first try in the green jersey and Ireland’s sixth try tonight. Ireland’s superior fitness took its toll as Quinn Roux scored the seventh with 14 minutes to go before Conway completed his hat trick ten minutes later.
Garry Ringrose danced amongst the USA defenders before picking the right moment to unleash a wicked step to create the line break. He unselfishly offloaded to Conway as Ireland reached a half-century of points. John Ryan added a ninth in the last play of the game.
I’d call four wins from four a fairly successful Autumn International campaign. We’ve seen Ireland topple the All Blacks but also have seen a number of fringe players step up and lay down a marker including Will Addison, Tadhg Beirne and Jack Conan. A big question mark was over Ireland’s replacements at scrum half and out half prior to the internationals, but Kieran Marmion, Luke McGrath and John Cooney show that not all is lost without Conor Murray while Joey Carbery and Ross Byrne are able replacements for Johnny Sexton.
There’s plenty of reasons to be cheerful from an Irish perspective so here’s to more in the new year.