Fiji routed as Sexton enjoys dream debut
Ireland 41 Fiji 6:Ireland remained unbeaten after the second match of their autumn series when they beat Fiji in the first international to be staged in Leinster’s ground in the RDS. On a squalling night in Dublin, Ireland ran in five tries in a one-sided contest.
With World Champions South Africa to arrive next week in Croke Park Ireland will look for some improvement on the performance played under difficult conditions and with Declan Kidney using all seven replacements and handing out three new caps to Jonathan Sexton, Sean O’Brien and Sean Cronin.
Kidney will have been impressed by the outstanding kicking of Sexton, who landed seven from seven and earned the man of the match award.
It took the home side nine minutes to get off the mark through the boot of Sexton. The outhalf landed the first penalty of the evening from just over 30 metres out when Fijian flanker Akapusi Quera pulled down the Irish maul.
Ireland settled more quickly and were unfortunate not to have had a try minutes later when a deft cross-field kick from Sexton found Keith Earls wide on the wing.
The Munster player delivered to the supporting Rob Kearney with Gordon D’Arcy picking it up in support before being bundled into touch.
It was Earls who finally got the crowd to their feet on 18 minutes. An Irish scrum five yards out gave the home side the chance to set up a training ground move. With dummy runners left and right Reddan’s pass to Earls allowed him run in unopposed.
Indeed it looked as though Earls had taken the blueprint from Brian O’Driscoll, who scored a very similar try in the dying minutes against Australia last week in Croke Park.
A penalty from Nicky Little and another from the boot of Sexton brought the teams to the break with Ireland leading 13-3.
Ireland lost openside flanker Denis Leamy four minutes into the second half when his leg was trapped in a maul and he was carried off by stretcher before leaving the ground in an ambulance. His injury handed Leinster’s O’Brien his first cap.
Little kicked another penalty for 13-6 but within a minute captain O’Driscoll had intercepted the Bath outhalf’s pass to run the length of the pitch for Ireland’s second try of the evening, his 38th for Ireland.
Sexton converted for 20-6 and Ireland looked comfortably in control of the game, which Fiji largely chose to play close in with their forwards battering out yardage
If there were any lingering doubts about the outcome Earls settled them just after the hour as Fiji began to tire.
Quick hands from O’Driscoll and D’Arcy put the winger through in the corner untouched for his second try, while Rob Kearney dived low and under Mosese Rauluni and Vereniki Goneva on 67 minutes for Ireland’s fourth touch down.
Shane Horgan was also rewarded for his hard work throughout the evening when his strength took him over in the corner for 41-6.
Scoring sequence: 9 minsSexton pen 3-0; 18 minsEarls try, Sexton con 10-0; 27 minsLittle pen 10-3; 40 minsSexton pen 13-3; (half-time 13-3); 44 minsLittle pen 13-6; 45 minsO’Driscoll try, Sexton con 20-6; 62 minsEarls try, Sexton con 27-6; 67 minsKearney tey, Sexton con 34-6; 77 minsHorgan try, Sexton con 41-6
Ireland:R Kearney (Leinster); S Horgan (Leinster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster); T Court, J Flannery (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), L Cullen (Leinster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Leamy (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements:S O'Brien (Leinster) for Leamy (44), T O'Leary (Munster) for Reddan (55), T Buckley (Munster) for Hayes (61), A Trimble for B O'Driscoll (68), D O'Callaghan for P O'Connell (68), S Cronin for J Flannery (73), P Wallace for R Kearney (75).
Fiji:N Ligairi; V Goneva, G Lovobalavu, S Baikeinuku, N Roko; N Little, M Rauluni; A Tarogi, V Veikoso, V Seuseu, W Lewaravu, I Rawaqa, A Satala, A Qera, A Boko.
Replacements:L Nakarawa for Rawaqa (41), T Nagusa for N Ligairi (53), I Ledua for V Veikoso (66), S Bola for Qera (66), G Dewes for Tarogi (66).