Ireland ran in five tries to secure a hard-fought 35-0 bonus-point win over Russia in their Pool A World Cup encounter in Kobe on Wednesday.
The win puts Ireland firmly back on top in the Pool A standings, two log points clear of Japan who have a game in hand. Russia are languishing at the bottom of the pool table.
Russia were always going to feel the wrath of an Ireland side smarting from a shock 19-12 loss to Japan in the previous round. An uncharacteristic lack of urgency and high error rate hindered Ireland’s effort against Japan last week, but the Irish had no trouble on that score in this match as they played at a ferocious pace and with great urgency for the best part of the 80 minutes.
It was by no means the complete performance Ireland would have hoped for, but they did what was needed to secure maximum log points. They did so without breaking a sweat because Russia hardly troubled them.
Russia defended admirably – making 182 tackles and missing only 21 – but it was their poor application of the laws that hugely contributed to their downfall. Russia conceded 10 penalties and two yellow cards.
With a conversion rate of a point per minute, Ireland raced off to a 14-point lead courtesy of tries by Rob Kearney and Peter O’Mahony. And it was only until Russia conceded a yellow card in the 34th minute before Ireland had gone over again, this time through Rhys Ruddock, for a 21-point lead at the break.
Much like in opening stanza, Ireland didn’t have it all their own way in the second half. They failed to gain outright territorial and possession dominance, while also conceding a couple of scrum penalties to the determined Russia pack. Ireland only managed to go over for the all-important fourth score inside the last quarter after Russia had been reduced to 14 players for foul play.
The rest of the game morphed into a scrappy arm-wrestle, riddled with handling mistakes despite Garry Ringrose’s late score. Joe Schmidt will be pleased with the result, but will acknowledge that the performance hardly sends a signal of intent to their prospective quarter-final opponents, which will be either the Springboks or All Blacks.
Ireland – Tries: Rob Kearney, Peter O’Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose. Conversions: Johnny Sexton (3), Jack Carty (2).
Russia – (0).
Ireland – 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton (c), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Peter O’Mahony, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Jean Kleyn, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Subs: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Andrew Porter, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Joey Carbery, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Jordan Larmour.
Russia – 15 Vasily Artemyev (c), 14 German Davydov, 13 Igor Galinovskiy, 12 Kirill Golosnitskiy, 11 Denis Simplikevich, 10 Ramil Gaisin, 9 Dmitry Perov, 8 Victor Gresev, 7 Tagir Gadzhiev, 6 Anton Sychev, 5 Bogdan Fedotko, 4 Andrey Garbuzov, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 Evgeny Matveev, 1 Andrei Polivalov.
Subs: 16 Stanislav Selskii, 17 Valery Morozov, 18 Vladimir Podrezov, 19 Andrey Ostrikov, 20 Evgeny Elgin, 21 Sergey Ianiushkin, 22 Roman Khodin, 23 Vladimir Ostroushko.