Gerry Thornley on Ireland’s impressive win; England forced to work by Tonga
The Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the Rugby World Cup with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Ireland’s Andrew Conway celebrates scoring their fourth try with Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray during the Rugby World Cup win over Scotland. Photo: Craig Mercer/Inpho
Well that wasn’t as difficult as expected now, was it? Ireland came flying out of the blocks this morning to crush Scotland in Yokohama with a bonus point 27-3 victory. James Ryan, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Conway all went over the tryline for Joe Schmidt’s side as they put down a resounding marker. Gerry Thornley was there to witness it all and he reports from Yokohama – “this bloodless Celtic coup was almost enjoyable boring. Ireland took a firm grip on Pool A, keeping Scotland comfortably at arm’s length with this fairly emphatic bonus point win,” he writes. The victory means that, all going well with a win over Japan next Saturday (kick-off: 8.15am), Ireland can start looking ahead to a quarter-final most likely to be against either South Africa or New Zealand – either of whom will pose a far greater test than Scotland did this morning.
However, there were a couple of black spots with the failed HIAs of both Peter O’Mahony and Bundee Aki standing out. While Johnny Sexton did play the majority of the game he gave the kicking duties over to Conor Murray in the first half after seemingly tweaking his groin. However, Schmidt said afterwards that they were just being “super cautious” with the outhalf and he should be okay for next Saturday. It was an impressive opening performance from Ireland and Gavin Cummiskey runs the rule over Schmidt’s charges in his player ratings. “Scotland were poor, rudderless and lateral for the most part, and when their attack was stymied resorted to kicking away possession. There was a disconnect that was not completely attributable to their opponents’ general superiority. It should worry Gregor Townsend,” that’s how John O’Sullivan evaluates the Scottish performance in his talking points where Ireland’s good lineout was also a standout. Meanwhile, Johnny Watterson rates the Scots’ performances on what was a very disappointing day for Gregor Townsend’s men.