THE JOE SCHMIDT era began at Lansdowne Road with Samoa the eager visitors. Jamie Heaslip captained Ireland with Paul O’Connell ready to lead the team off the bench and in the upcoming Tests against Australia and New Zealand.
Ain’t no show like a Joe [Schmidt] show. Welcome to our live coverage of Ireland v Samoa at Lansdowne Road. Les Kiss — two wins from two in his interim coaching role — is Ireland’s defence coach and John Plumtree is looking after the forwards.
Samoa are without a quartet of top players — Census Johnston, Alesana Tuilagi, David Lemi and Paul Williams — but have plenty of Premiership, Super Rugby and Top 14-based operators to call on.
Here are the two squads for this evening’s encounter in D4.
Ireland: Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Fergus McFadden; Paddy Jackson, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Mike Ross; Mike McCarthy, Devin Toner; Peter O’Mahony, Chris Henry, Jamie Heaslip (c).
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Declan Fitzpatrick, Paul O’Connell, Sean O’Brien, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Dave Kearney.
Samoa: Fa’atoina Autagavaia; Alapati Leiua, George Pisi, Johnny Leota, Brando Va’aulu; Tusi Pisi, Kahn Fotuali’i; Sakaria Taulafo, Ole Avei, Logovi’i Mulipola; Fa’atiga Lemalu, Filo Paulo; Ofisa Treviranus, Jack Lam, Taiasina Tuifu’a.
Replacements: Ti’i Paulo, Viliamu Afatia, James Johnston, Joe Tekori, Alafoti Faosiliva, Jeremy Su’a, Isaia Tuifua, Fautua Otto.
Andrew Trimble is not on playing duty this evening so he is mingling in the media area and mooching our hot, free dinners. The Ulster winger is giving rugby commentary a belt after he was deemed surplus to Irish requirements.
We’re under an hour away from kick-off so let us get you up to speed with a trio of insightful columns from David Wallace, Shane Byrne and Adrian Flavin.
I’m of to get my second coffee of the day before taking my place in the stands and freezing my nimble fingers off. While I’m making my way up to Row R ['R' for rapid!] feel free to speculate on the scoreline and the all-important first try-scorer of the Joe Schmidt era.
Here come the Samoans. 10 minutes to kick-off and there are about 12,000 bums in seats. Lot of folks getting their last-minute inebriants [word?] in. Booze basically. M&Ms for the kiddies.
There is a 36 piece band and about 130 ladies on the pitch — getting set for a sing-song. Here’s Michael D in a lovely greenish suit. Moments’ silence for ‘Fats’ now.
Impeccably observed 60 seconds of ciúin for Peter ‘Fats’ Fataliofa, the Samoan prop who unfortunately passed away at the age of 54 during the week.
If matches were decided on players singing during the anthems, Ireland would be in trouble. Peter O’Mahony was the only man belting it out, although D’Arcy may have been hollering away under his beard.
We have a ‘no ball’ delay and dashing Steve Walsh is not impressed. KICK-OFF and O’Mahony spills forward under the high ball. Samoa scrum.
PEN: Ireland 3-0 Samoa (Jackson ’3)
Ireland wheel it, Jack McGrath gets the back-slaps and Murray gets the put-in. Ball is out and spun wide right. Bowe with a grubber that Autagavaia claims but his attempts to run it out hit the skids and he is penalised (under O’Mahony pressure) for holding on. 30 metres out, straight in front and over she goes.
PEN: Ireland 3-3 Samoa (Pisi ’7)
D’Arcy spills the restart and Samoa are deep in the Irish 22 but a knock-on gives the home side a defensive scrum. The setpiece is solid but Murray’s lump upfield is pretty aimless. Samoa evade Jackson in midfield for a line-break and we have a penalty coming up for offside [think Ross is at fault.]. Tusi Pisi slots it over from 20 metres out.
O’Driscoll guilty of trying the fancy stuff too early as his flick pass finds no-one and is smothered on the turf by Lam. Tight-head prop Mulipola’s evening is over as he is replaced by Afatia.
Good grief. They are piping in music and drum beats in an attempt to get the crowd going. Sarries behaviour. O’Driscoll hit the Samoan line at pace on the left wing and is taken down heavily. D’Arcy then keeps an attack alive by diving forward to claim a stray pass. McGrath has started well in the Irish front-row.
McFadden concedes a penalty after O’Driscoll shows great pace to hare back and make a tackle on Autagavaia, who avoided him seconds earlier. Samoa lose the lineout and Ireland attack. Unfortunately, O’Driscoll grubbers a ball right back to them.
15 minutes gone as McFadden misses a tackle on Pisi out on the right wing. Kearney then has to put his body on the line to halt a charging Leiua and O’Mahony gets stuck in at the ruck to win Ireland a penalty, and a clearing kick.
Murray must be under instruction to put some air miles on the ball as he box-kicks on the Irish 10m line with a phalanx of backs to his left. Ireland are going aerial and it is not working… yet. McFadden is the latest to spill forward.
Paddy Jackson is battered into the turf in the tackle but springs up for more. D’Arcy then shows why Schmidt loves him so much my getting stuck in at the breakdown and winning his team a scrum.
PEN: Ireland 6-3 Samoa (Jackson ’20)
McGrath and Toner are doing sterling work in the scrum and Afatia goes to ground, giving PJ another kick straight at the posts. 42 metres out this time but it has the legs.
PJ tips over a penalty for Ireland. INPHO/James Crombie
Delicious, destructive rolling maul and O’Mahony finishes it off. That all began 20 metres out. Super stuff from Ireland. Jackson is left and wide with the conversion.
Fans taking this game for granted already — 29 minutes in and we have the first Mexican Wave. Henry is penalised at the breakdown and Pisi has a chance to cut the deficit…
PEN: Ireland 11-6 Samoa (Pisi ’30)
40 metres out and slightly to the left but Pisi makes a good connection and it sails over. O’Driscoll then pinged just after the restart. Ireland should be looking to get on the scoreboard next, penalty, try or drop goal. They don’t need to give the Samoans any encouragement.
Ross is penalised for not releasing after taking his man down. Needless penalty and a simple one for Pisi BUT he strikes the righthand post. Bad miss.
Looks like Chris Henry’s evening is over. Sean O’Brien jogs on as the Ulster openside limps off. Amid all of this, Samoa brought out some volleyball skills to keep a move going. Lovely spring and palm backwards to keep an attack alive.
McGrath with a steal at the ruck. No clear ball coming out so Walsh awards a scrum to Ireland. 37 minutes gone.
McFadden just held up at the line after a line-break from Rob Kearney circa 2012. 40 yard break straight up the middle as Samoa are listing from left to right. O’Driscoll tries a pick and dive but he is wrestled out of play . TMO takes two minutes to tell us what we all know — NO TRY. Forward pass.
Yellow card for George Pisi.
Jackson with a penalty attempt in first-half injury time…
PEN: Ireland 14-6 Samoa (Jackson ’40+1)
Sweetly struck by the out-half. 22m out and 5m in from the sidelines.
Lots of negative comments [below] about our bearded wonder in the 12 jersey. D’Arcy’s strength is usually his defence but that has been lacking so far today, apart from one nice piece of work at a breakdown in the Samoan half.
Is it time for Luke Marshall against the Aussies next week?
KICK-OFF as Paddy J launches one… all of 12 metres away.
Confirmed substitution as O’Brien stays on in place of Henry.
Great defence from Bowe as he rushes up to cut off Tuifua before he can get his 2-on-1 pass to Vaaulu. Early engagement from Samoa and Ireland attack. O’Mahony with a super line-break but his pass back to McCarthy misses the target. Chance lost.
TRY! Ireland 19-6 Samoa (Sean O’Brien ’45)
CON: Ireland 21-6 Samoa (Jackson ’46)
What a try that was! Super steal from Best at the breakdown. D’Arcy ignores Bowe on his right and spins to Jackson, who has time and space. His kick in behind the Samoa defence evades the fullback and O’Driscoll pulls out an incredible scoop pass from between his legs to McFadden. Murray keeps play ticking over and O’Brien bashes his way over for the try.
The fight seems to be going out of Samoa after that highlight reel try for the Tullopw Tank. They are starting to dip into the bench but no sign of Irish re-enforcements yet. Oh… Paulie is out for a jog.
Someone tell O’Driscoll he is not retired yet. he’s pulling out more trick plays than John Virgo on Big Break at the moment.
Here comes captain Paulie. Almost 20 months away from the action with Ireland. He replaces a bloodied O’Mahony. Mike McCarthy goes back-row.
We have Sean Farrell back at TheScore.ie HQ under strict orders to track down a video clip of that O’Driscoll pass because you need to see it.
Meanwhile, Pisi’s game could be over as he runs into his own man in midfield. We may bne dealing with a double concussion here.
Joe Schmidt talked, on Thursday, about the change-up Ian Madigan would bring to Ireland once he comes on. No sign of the Leinster man warming up yet so Schmidt may not be too eager to change much up at present. Jackson has done well. Targeted by the big Samoans but he has stood up well to the physical challenge.
Brando Vaaulu [No. 11] leaves on a stretcher with his head and neck in a brace. Worrying sight. Play resumes on the pitch with Ireland 23 minutes from a victory. They would be well adbised not to rest on their laurels as one more score should just about sap the last of the islanders’ energy.
Heaslip gives away his customary penalty and Fotuali’i opts to hit the line rather than go for three simple points.
Jackson with a dinked chip to McFadden but it does not connect and skitters out of play. Here comes the cavalry. Four substitutions with Dave Kearney, Eoin Reddan, Declan Fitzpatrick and O’Mahony coming on for McCarthy and taking his place at blindside again. 61 minutes gone.
That try was Sean O’Brien’s first for Ireland in over two years. His last score in green was against Russia at the 2011 World Cup.
PEN: Ireland 21-9 Samoa (Faotuali’i ’63)
Fotuali’i opts for the sticks this time after an Irish offside [with some woeful attempts at tackling beforehand]. Over it goes from 32m out.
TMO… Did Dave Kearney score? Looks like it.
TRY! Ireland 28-9 Samoa (D Kearney ’65)
That try was all about McFadden’s incisive break as he cut in from his left flank. D’Arcy trucked it close and the props got a feel before O’Driscoll found Kearney to finish off. Excellent touchline conversion from Jackson.
Ireland will wake up on Monday morning to find themselves up to seventh in the world, replacing Samoa. If they can beat the Aussies and All Blacks [locate your lucky horse shoes] they could climb as high as fifth.
Poor pass from brother Rob to Dave as a try goes a-begging out on the right wing. Here comes Madigan, on for BOD, and Cronin, on for Best. O’Driscoll’s LAST EVER game against Samoa. Rousing reception. Bless.
TRY! Ireland 35-9 Samoa (McFadden ’71)
Samoa are a beaten side. Scrum in front of the posts. Ireland look to have numbers on both sides. Reddan goes left for a three-on-two. D’Arcy’s eyes light up but he ends up popping a pass to McFadden, who dots down. Another good Jackson conversion.
Super stuff for Paddy Jackson’s confidence that he has been kept on for the entire 80 minutes. Madigan is now inside centre with D’Arcy shifting out one. Six minutes to go and there could be time to breach the 40-point mark.
The try goes to D Kearney’s Co. Louth head as he tries to grubber up the wing and flubs it straight into Samoan arms. Three minutes left on the clock and the last Irish task, it seems, is to keep the Samoan try-count at ’0′.
TRY! Ireland 40-9 Samoa (Kearney ’78)
Tiki-taka rugby from Ireland and Reddan finds Kearney to finish off. Break, initially, by Madigan and Kearney; elder brother Rob with a cameo. D’Arcy was screaming for the tap-in but over charged Dave to take the gimme. Jackson, as is his occasional wont, misses a simple conversion.
What did you make of all that?
Many thanks for keeping me company on this increasingly chilly night. Well done to Jack McGrath for winning the sponsor’s man-of-the-match award.
Stay with us this evening for the post-match reaction, videos and analysis.
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