It took just 90 seconds for Ireland to put this game out of Russia’s reach as Rob Kearney scored his country’s fastest Test try since Rory Best scored in 52 seconds against Wales in 2007. Ireland were never going to be in danger in Kobe but this was devastatingly rapid against the 20th-ranked team in the world. Peter O’Mahony’s second ever Ireland try followed 11 minutes later, also converted by captain Johnny Sexton, to put Ireland on course for victory inside the first quarter-hour.
The bonus-point victory was always going to be a formality, and a necessity, but what Ireland needed after that embarrassing loss to Japan last Saturday was a return to the fluidity and intensity that undid Scotland so spectacularly well in the opening game. This was not that performance, with more Irish errors, several unforced, than tries that will give Joe Schmidt and his coaches plenty of pause for thought ahead of the final pool game.
Rhys Ruddock and Peter O’Mahony were the standouts in this Ireland victory as the back-rowers both scored in the five-try win. While O’Mahony looked sharp to latch onto a grubber kick from Johnny Sexton he was also a lineout and breakdown threat while Ruddock’s carrying was hugely effective.
For the first time in three games, Ireland finished on the right side of the penalty count while referee Jerome Garces of France saw fit to send two Russian players to the sin bin for yellow-card offences, one in each half.
Ireland 6 Russia 10
Ireland were forced into a late change to their bench when Joey Carbery, covering scrum-half for the first time in his pro career, was forced to withdraw. He had felt some irritation following Wednesday’s captain’s run in the ankle he injured on August 10 and it was decided not to risk him. There were further concerns when Jordi Murphy, who arrived only last Sunday as an injury replacement for Jack Conan, lasted just 27 minutes before being forced from the field having taken two hefty knocks six minutes apart.
Ireland are back on the Bullet Train on Friday as the squad moves on from Kobe to Fukuoka, on the northern shore of Japan’s Kyushu Island. There is also a much-needed nine-day turnaround to their last Pool A fixture after three matches in 12 days. Samoa represent the final obstacle between Ireland and a place in the quarter-finals.