Rugby World Cup: Five key moments in Ireland’s destruction of Scotland
From Iain Henderson’s break to Andrew Conway’s try it was a perfect night for Ireland
Ireland’s Niall Scannell leaves the pitch after the Rugby World Cup win over Scotland. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
In the fifth minute Irish lock, Iain Henderson sprints with the ball between captain Stuart McNally and secondrow Grant Gilchrist. Henderson streaks up field and makes 30 metres before three Scottish players bring him down a few metres from the try line. It is the first sign in many outings that Henderson has shown that ability. His run sets up an Irish platform just metres out from which Ireland score through James Ryan. It was that high tempo start that fuelled Irish confidence and set them on the way to a crushing first half performance. All of that was triggered by Henderson’s brio that we haven’t seen from him since maybe the 2017 Lions tour.
Bonus point try
Conor Murray box kicks a high ball into the Scottish half with the irrepressible Jordan Larmour and Andrew Conway chasing. The ball comes down on the Scotland 22 and there’s a collision when Conway contests in the air with Ryan Wilson with the ball running lose and beyond the Scotland number 8. The ball spills favourably for Larmour who takes it forward and goes to ground. Murray in support spins it wide to Conway on the right, who runs in for a try. Why this try? Because it was the bonus point try. In a great World Cup start for Ireland not coming away from a match like that with a bonus point, where Scotland didn’t turn up for 40 minutes, would have been a mini blow on a good day.
When Bundee Aki left the pitch for his HIA after 22 minutes Chris Farrell began his World Cup in the Irish centre. Farrell would not have been on anybody’s radar a few years ago but the big Ulsterman came in and did what replacements are supposed to do – make an impact. Not only did he show his 6’4’’ physique to be effective but he also has hands. With the game against Japan a six-day turnaround, Farrell’s ability to seize the moment might have allayed some of Joe Schmidt’s fears. We don’t know how Aki will react to his head injury over the coming days and Schmidt, noticeably, did not name check Robbie Henshaw in a post match interview. Farrell might start against the hosts. Aki’s head injury could see to that.
When Jack Carty came on for Johnny Sexton, it was to protect the first pick outhalf as much as give Carty experience. Sexton was so well minded by his forward’s dominance that he actually went looking for contact. This is what former Irish flanker Stephen Ferris said before the game: “we’d be talking about going straight after Sexton. Anytime he takes a bad hit, it takes him four or five seconds to get back off the ground. We know he’s had previous with concussion and everything. I would be targeting him massively going straight down his channel.” That didn’t happen. The moment Sexton departed on 58 minutes healthy and fit was hugely important.
The ball went loose. Conway noticed that there was space in behind the Scotland defence and booted it forward from just inside the Scottish half. He then went chasing. It was a good kick. It was an accurate kick. It was a lucky kick. Stuart Hogg, no slouch, was covering. But the ball hit the upright of the goal post forcing Hogg to collect and take it behind his own try line. The post had kept the ball from going over the line and instead of a dropout it was a five metre scrum for Ireland. It was that padded piece of wood that forced Hogg back, that led to the scrum, that allowed Tadhg Furlong muscle his way over for an Irish try.