Ireland looked back to their ruthless, clinical best in a dominant 47-5 win over Samoa in Fukuoka. Despite losing Bundee Aki to a red card in the first half, Ireland ran out comfortable winners on the back of a massive display by the pack and half backs on a night when uncertainty swirled over the Japan vs Scotland game.
Ireland had a job to do to guarantee qualification - win with a bonus point - and they had it wrapped up inside the first half despite the red card to Aki. Schmidt will be sweating on Aki’s possible ban and waiting to see if Typhoon Hagibis decides who Ireland play in the quarter-finals.
Here’s how the players rated on a return to form for Ireland.
Very solid scrummaging and plenty of heavy work around the fringes in open play. A typically strong performance from Healy that bodes well for the knockouts. 7/10
Best took his try well to open the scoring and had a really strong impact at the breakdown. Looked back to his reliable self at the lineout too. 7/10
A monstrous performance from the New Ross Godzilla. Almost unstoppable in contact and one of the best tighthead scrummagers in the game. Outstanding 9/10
Henderson is really growing into his role as a lineout caller and managed the Irish throw really well. A very mature performance from the new Ulster captain 8/10
Ryan cruised through this game with the authority of a guy who’s comfortably one of the best second rows playing the game right now. If there’s a collision anywhere on the field, he wins it, simple as that. 8/10
A busy evening for Beirne on the flank, and got through a mountain of work in defence, in the lineout and carrying some nasty ball around the corner. Didn’t have the impact at the breakdown that he would’ve liked but a very strong overall performance 8/10
Josh Van Der Flier
When Aki got sent off, it meant that Josh Van Der Flier would have more ground to cover in defence but he barely broke his stride on the extra space to fill. Quality 8/10
Stander was always going to come in for close attention from the Samoan forwards but he stood up to the punishment and put in a hugely effective performance in the tight. His try from close range was the proper reward for a hard, powerful days work for Limerick’s own CJ Stander. 8/10
When Conor Murray plays at his best, there’s not a better scrumhalf playing the game. I’m not saying he was back to his very best in this one, but he had all the signs you look for 8/10
There is Ireland with Johnny Sexton, and Ireland without Johnny Sexton. When he plays, Ireland just make the right decisions more often than not. He scored twice too, which always helps. Watching his work on phase play is a must for any young player. This was a really good performance 9/10
A quiet enough game for Stockdale overall. No mistakes, but no standout moments either. 6/10
His red card just before the half-hour mark will be a huge talking point but it was the correct call, for me. The real issue will be the ban he’ll receive in the aftermath with the quarter-finals to come. He was good up until the red card, so it’s hard to give him a fair rating. N/A
A poor enough game from Henshaw but it was always going to be tough to come straight into the game after his long layoff. He had a few key handling and passing errors but looked decent in defence in Aki’s absence, on the few occasions when Samoa managed to escape the grip of the Irish forwards. 6/10
A decent performance. He had little enough to do given the near-complete dominance of the forwards at the maul and scrum but looked assured in possession. 6/10
Rob Kearney will likely start the quarter-final but I thought Jordan Larmour made a really good account of himself in transition and taking his opportunities out wide once we set up camp in the Samoan half for much of the 80 minutes. Man of the match on the day, and well enough deserved. 8/10
With a man in the bin, the replacements would have to keep the foot on the pedal, so to speak. They did so. All the pack replacements had a big impact in some facet of the game, while Joey Carbery and Andrew Conway linked up really well for the cherry-on-top try on 69 minutes. 8/10