Here's everything you need to know after Ireland's 27-3 victory over Scotland in their opening Rugby World Cup game.
Ireland built scoreboard pressure throughout the first half, carving out a 19-3 half-time lead and then tightening the screws after the break as the rain began to pour on a hot and humid night in Japan. It was very impressive but Andrew Conway’s try on 56 minutes effectively secured victory. Ireland’s fourth try closed the door on a Scottish comeback at 24-3, Gregor Townsend’s unable to play their expansive game in the heavy showers.
Pressure, what pressure? After months of building this World Cup Pool A showdown up as a knife-edge encounter, Ireland romped to victory over their Six Nations rivals to give themselves some wiggle room in the group, albeit with a six-day turnaround to their next game against Japan. This was vintage Ireland, a dominant pack bullying their opponents and bringing the maul back into their gameplan with clinical effect. Four tries and a watertight defence that even survived 10 minutes with 14 men following Tadhg Beirne’s 68th-minute yellow card.
CJ Stander picked up the man of the match award as Ireland ruled the gainline against a Scotland team made to look lightweight in contact. It was a brutally effective display, and not just from the Munster and Ireland No.8. Jordan Larmour and Andrew Conway, both brought into the back-three for injured duo Rob Kearney and Keith Earls respectively, were also excellent.
Not the usual flashpoints that Ireland-Scotland games usually throw up for the officials to deal with but Wayne Barnes did sin-bin Ireland replacement Tadhg Beirne late on for killing the ball at a ruck, a cynical act especially given Ireland’s commanding position.
Ireland 7 Scotland 6 + 1 free-kick
It may have been Yokohama in late September but this was as attritional as a Six Nations clash in February and Ireland’s victory came at a cost with both Bundee Aki and Peter O’Mahony failing to return from first-half Head Injury Assessments while Scotland flanker Hamish Watson left the field on a stretcher cart having twisted his knee very awkwardly in a ruck.
With this key fixture in the pool out of the way, Ireland can go to Shizuoka today full of confidence for this Saturday’s next game against tournament hosts Japan. Scotland, meanwhile, have two extra days to prepare for another potentially bruising encounter, against Samoa in Kobe.
J Larmour; A Conway; G Ringrose, B Aki (C Farrell, 21), J Stockdale; J Sexton ( J Carty, 58), C Murray (L McGrath, 58); C Healy (D Kilcoyne, 48), R Best - Captain, T Furlong (A Porter, 48); I Henderson (T Beirne, 58), J Ryan; P O’Mahony (J Conan, 21), J van der Flier (J Conan 13-21, N Scannell, 74), CJ Stander.
S Hogg; T Seymour (D Graham, 58), D Taylor (C Harris, 65), S Johnson, S Maitland; F Russell, G Laidlaw (A Price , 62); A Dell (G Reid, 62), S McInally – Captain, W Nel (S Berghan, 53); G Gilchrist, J Gray (S Cummings, 65); J Barclay (B Thomson, 53), H Watson (F Brown, 38), R Wilson.
Wayne Barnes (England)