Joey Carbery hits speed bump as Ireland run riot in New Jersey
Young outhalf endures kicking nightmare as Ireland run in nine tries against hapless Eagles
James Ryan goes over for Ireland’s seventh try during the Test match against the US Eagles at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
USA 19 Ireland 55
Amateurs mostly, some gathered from other sports, literally swept aside by professionals. The US Eagles, stocked with collegiate players, were unable to give Ireland’s coming generation a game on sweltering Saturday night in New Jersey.
Of course Joe Schmidt knew this long before his young squad landed at JFK. The Ireland coach spoke beforehand about “building the base” ahead of Japan 2019 – where they land Monday evening for far more demanding dress rehearsals – but the 51-year-old precisionist also charged Joey Carbery with “running the game at 10” and be what Graham Henry christened him last August.
Johnny Sexton’s heir apparent, so special a talent that Ronan O’Gara put him on Beauden Barrett’s road map to greatness, kicked like the novice he still is.
With Paddy Jackson linking up with the squad in Tokyo and the 21-year-old pulling up lame on 50 minutes while scrambling in defence to collar Sevens jinkster Mike Te’o, this looks like a sloppy end to an occasionally stunning rookie season.
But Schmidt gave Ireland a “pass mark” for filleting this tackle-shy rabble nine tries to three.
He knew this would be a stroll and so exposing Jacob Stockdale along with four more new caps off the bench – James Ryan, Andrew Porter, Dave Heffernan and Rory Scannell – to this “furnace” of a Test match was the challenge in itself.
The healthy 22,370 crowd (and the tailgaters who never left the carpark) also created a relatively oppressive atmosphere even if rugby remains as hard a sell as ever Stateside.
John Mitchell, mere weeks before slinging his hook and escaping rugby exile for “executive” redemption with the Bulls in South Africa, reignited the need for US entry into the Pro 12 via an east coast franchise.
Anyone fancy a regular New York City weekend? It’ll cost you.
The flush of cash from NBC’s television dollars should help smooth the application. IRFU chief Philip Browne and the league’s CEO Martin Anayi are already on record salivating at the prospect of prime-time exposure.
“This is all about primary markets,” Anayi told The Irish Times in August 2016. “We can’t be in England, we can’t be in France, so where are the other big primary markets? There is a big continent called North America that everyone is looking at. Our unions believe in the same thing: that the best way for USA Rugby to become a tier-one nation is through our tournament.”
Browne echoed the plan: “The four unions can provide the coaches and administrative expertise. We can do what is needed to get a franchise up and running pretty quickly.”
Maybe that’s what this crazy detour en route to Japan was all about.
Because it can’t just be the non-contest spectacle.
Anyway, reward for Ireland’s efficiency and accuracy – minus Carbery’s haywire kicking – came early and regularly.
The Americans can’t, won’t or don’t know how to tackle. Run straight at them and the endeavour was honest but once Ireland delivered some ingenuity, mainly through the dancing feet of Keith Earls – “I just hope Gats doesn’t see,” joked Schmidt – this drinking session in the Jersey sunshine became a rout.
It proved the basic theory that without their European-based players, almost all of them cried off – AJ MacGinty at least showed well against his native land – the US will never compete against a Tier One nation.
Not three minutes were clocked when Tiernan O’Halloran easily evaded David Tameilau to release Earls.
Carbery, only taking the right-side place kicks, floated the conversion off target.
Try two, on 14 minutes, ended the Phoney War. Straight from the Schmidt playbook; Carbery’s inside pass sent Earls streaking clear as the blindside winger’s lovely pass put Stockdale over on debut. Garry Ringrose nailed the left touchline conversion.
Earls was running riot, gliding for 190 metres in the first half alone, scoring two tries and creating three more.
Carbery’s mini-disaster gifted the Eagles 14 points. Another slow motion chip out of his 22, his second of three to go awry, was blocked by the long arms of Nic Civett. The lock regathered to fall over the line.
That proved the height of competitive viewing.
Next, industrious captain Rhys Ruddock spared Carbery a kickable shot at goal as Ireland turned to their trusty maul. Niall Scannell came up with the pill. Carbery missed the conversion but found his range after Kieran Marmion and Earls made fools of the Americans once again to leave it a lopsided 29-7 at the turn.
Hard sell this second half, but at least the bookies’ initial 22-point spread was fleeced.
Not long after the break, Jack Conan drove the Irish scrum over but Carbery’s nightmare continued. Another blocked kick, this time by Cork-born flanker John Quill, led to a second US try that MacGinty converted.
With Rory Scannell in for Luke Marshall there was no chance of the shepperd’s hook but Carbery was forced off moments later.
The US snatched another try through centre Ryan Matyas before James Ryan’s special arrival into the professional arena. This 6’ 7” kid has been keenly tracked up through the age grades in St Michael’s College but less than 60 seconds after following Michael Bent and Brian O’Driscoll into a unique club of being capped by Ireland before Leinster he went one better.
Earls gets the lion’s share of credit yet again for squeezing through an invisible gap before sending Ryan galloping away.
Rory Scannell missed his conversion under the posts but place-kicking was an unneeded luxury on this era-launching sojourn in Harrison, New Jersey.
SCORING SEQUENCE – 2 mins: K Earls try, 5-0; 14 mins: J Stockdale try, 10-0; G Ringrose con, 12-0; 19 mins: K Earls try, 17-0; 20 mins: N Civetta try, 17-5; AJ MacGinty con, 17-7; 30 mins: N Scannell try, 22-7; K Marmion try, 27-7; J Carbery con, 29-7. Half-time. 43 mins: J Conan try, 34-7; J Carbery con, 36-7; 45 mins: J Quill try, 36-12; AJ MacGinty con, 36-14; 54 mins: R Matyas try, 36-19; 61 mins: James Ryan try, 41-19; 68 mins: L McGrath try, 46-19; R Scannell con, 48-19; 74 mins: S Zebo try, 53-19, R Scannell con, 55-19.
IRELAND: T O’Halloran; K Earls, G Ringrose, L Marshall, J Stockdale; J Carbery, K Marmion; C Healy, N Scannell, John Ryan; Q Roux, D Toner; R Ruddock (capt), J van der Flier, J Conan.
Replacements: R Scannell for L Marshall (half-time), S Zebo for J Carbery, D Kilcoyne for C Healy, A Porter for J Ryan and D Heffernan for N Scannell (all 50 mins), L McGrath for K Marmion, J Ryan for Q Roux (both 60 mins), D Leavy for T O’Halloran (69 mins).
USA: B Cima; M Te’o, R Matyas, M Brache, M Iosefo; AJ MacGinty, N Augspurger (co-capt); B Tarr, P Malcolm, C Baumann; N Brakeley, N Civetta; J Quill (co-capt), T Lamborn, D Tameilau.
Replacements: W Magie for M Brache (27-37 mins, 66 mins), S Davies for M Iosefo, P Ryan for C Baumann, M Jensen for N Civetta (all 48 mins).
Referee: Luke Pearce (England).