Gerry Thornley says welcome back Ireland, Wales start in style against Georgia

The Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the Rugby World Cup with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

George North scores Wales’ sixth try against Georgia. Photograph: EPA/Jiji Press

George North scores Wales’ sixth try against Georgia. Photograph: EPA/Jiji Press

What a difference a game makes. Ireland’s 27-3 win over Scotland in Yokohama suggests they are now back towards their best for the first time since November 2018. Indeed, in his column from Japan this morning, Gerry Thornley writes: “Welcome back Ireland. ” Sunday’s victory was built on the performance of the Irish pack, who blew Scotland away in the opening stages and operated a faultless set-piece throughout, winning all 22 of their scrums and penalties. When they’re in that sort of mood, they’re difficult to live with. He writes: “As they showed in 2018, these Irish forwards are a match for any other pack in the world. At its hub was the Iain Henderson-James Ryan combination. Both are young, mobile, dynamic, modern day locks and ever since Ryan burst onto the Test scene, one always felt this could be one of the truly great Irish secondrow partnerships.” Steering the Irish pack was Conor Murray, who looks to be his old self again after a difficult 2018-19 campaign which saw him sidelined with a neck injury: “The sight of Murray at his imperious best was so reassuring. It was a reminder that you wouldn’t swap him for any other scrumhalf in the world.”

Meanwhile Keith Duggan was with the Japan team in Hamamatsu yesterday, as they set about plotting Ireland’s downfall ahead of Saturday’s Pool A clash in Shizuoka. And the Brave Blossoms are well aware that Joe Schmidt’s side might already have one eye on the quarter-finals, where it looks like a clash with the Springboks awaits. Tongan-born Uwe Helu said: “I think they will look down on us, that’s for sure. And we’ll do everything when we get our chance. From my point of view, we need to work as a team. Don’t go one on one. To make sure we topple them, go with someone. Don’t give them those chances.” However in the Irish camp, Cian Healy insists his side are embracing the chance to meet the host nation this weekend, as they look to build on the Scotland win: “It’s a great opportunity. The style of play they have and the players they have is very exciting so it’s something we’re going to look hard at during the week and plan for and then when it gets to it, just embrace it and enjoy the game and enjoy the atmosphere because it’s a host nation, home crowd, a lot of Irish here as well so I’d say it should be good craic of a game.”

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.