Ireland take pole position in Pool A with a resounding four-try victory over Scotland in their opening Rugby World Cup 2019 match.
James Ryan, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Conway were the try scorers and the bonus point sees Ireland join Japan at the top of Pool A on five points.
A dominant Ireland opened the scoring after five minutes. Both Rory Best and Iain Henderson featured in the build up to the first try with James Ryan bludgeoning over after a bulldozing run from Henderson.
Best turned scorer when he crossed after rumbling maul. Wayne Barnes was initially happy with the grounding as it appeared that John Barclay had stripped the ball but the try was confirmed by the TMO.
After 25 minutes Ireland were in complete control. A Scottish lineout on the Irish 22 went astray allowing Andrew Conway to hack through and a fortuitous bounce of the ball off the post allowed the Munster man to carry Stuart Hogg back over his own line. Several phases after the resulting scrum saw Furlong barrel over for Ireland’s third try.
Scotland found it hard to get a foothold in the game with Ireland playing at their own pace and controlling the pace of the game. Andrew Conway added the bonus point shortly after the half time mark allowing his side to release the gas pedal for the remaining 25 minutes.
Ireland had their defence tested in the second half but they were always fairly comfortable. Scotland were unable to narrow the Irish backline unlike England in the warm up match and resulted to putting in poorly executed kicks in behind the defence to which were hoovered up comfortably by the covering defenders.
Particularly in the first half Ireland deployed a defence similar to the one that was ripped apart by England in the warm ups. Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose set a tremendous tempo, putting the Scots on the back foot and, unlike against England, were able to hit their men behind the gainline. There were however times when the Irish defence was caught narrow and a better side will take advantage of this in the quarter finals.
For me the highlight of this was an excellent chop tackle from Ringrose on Hogg as the former Glasgow man threatened to cut loose on the outside while Aki was straight over the ball to win the penalty. Both Aki and Ringrose showed their quality in a terrific display this morning.
In attack, Ireland didn’t do anything that we didn’t expect. However everything they did was with pinpoint accuracy and, coupled with a poor Scottish performance, was the base mark for the victory. Opposition later in the tournament will not afford Ireland the number of mistakes that Townsend’s men made this morning.
Next up for Joe Schmidt’s men is a tricky match against the hosts, Japan next Saturday. Japan defeated Russia in the opening game and, like Scotland, love to run the ball from all areas of the park. This should suit Ireland as they take a step closer to a finishing top of the group.
There was plenty to be proud of on show today for Ireland. Stand out players include Rory Best, CJ Stander, Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton with the latter controlling proceedings very well. Jordan Larmour was a handful at full back, always looking to run the ball in times that Rob Kearney perhaps wouldn't. He took a few risks that didn't pay off but an otherwise solid display. Henderson and Ryan led from the front in the second row and look to have nailed down those jerseys for the next few years while CJ Stander showed what he is capable of after a few indifferent matches in a green jersey.
- Cian Healy
- Rory Best
- Tadhg Furlong
- Iain Henderson
- James Ryan
- Peter O'Mahony
- Josh vd Flier
- CJ Stander
- Conor Murray
- Johnny Sexton
- Jacob Stockdale
- Bundee Aki
- Garry Ringrose
- Andrew Conway
- Jordan Larmour
- Niall Scannell
- Dave Kilcoyne
- Andrew Porter
- Tadhg Beirne
- Jack Conan
- Luke McGrath
- Jack Carty
- Chris Farrell