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Dublin: 13°C Thursday 29 October 2020


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Good evening and welcome to this evening’s live minute-by-minute coverage of Ireland’s November Test against Canada in the Aviva Stadium.

Joe Schmidt has rung the changes after last Saturday’s historic win in Chicago, naming a team that is as exciting as it is experimental.

Kick-off is at 7.15pm so finish watching the football or get the last pre-match pint in. We’ll be here when you get back, don’t worry.

Here’s a quick reminder of the Irish team which features three debutants in the starting XV — Billy Holland, Jack O’Donoghue and Garry Ringrose.


15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Craig Gilroy
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Luke Marshall
11. Keith Earls
10. Paddy Jackson
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Cian Healy
2. Sean Cronin
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Ultan Dillane
5. Billy Holland
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jack O’Donoghue


16. James Tracy
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. John Ryan
19. Donnacha Ryan
20. Dan Leavy
21. Luke McGrath
22. Joey Carbery
23. Niyi Adeolokun

And here’s the Canada side. On the wing, DTH van der Merwe will need no introduction to Pro12 watchers…


15. Matt Evans
14. DTH van der Merwe
13. Conor Trainor
12. Ciaran Hearn
11. Taylor Paris
10. Connor Braid.
9.  Gordon McRorie

1. Djustice Sears-Duru
2. Ray Barkwill
3. Jake Ilnicki
4. Brett Beukboom
5. Evan Olmstead
6. Kyle Baillie
7. Lucas Rumball
8. Aaron Carpenter


16. Eric Houward
17. Rob Brouwer
18. Matt Tierney
19. Admir Cejvanovic
20. Matt Heaton
21. Phil Mack
22. Pat Parfrey
23. Phil Blevins

Less than 10 minutes to kick off in the Aviva Stadium and the teams are in the tunnel. Peter O’Mahony will lead Ireland out — his first international appearance since that devastating injury at the World Cup last year.

Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell are in the Aviva Stadium press box for us tonight.

For the gamblers among you there, the spread tonight is 36 points in Ireland’s favour.

Then again, it was 21 points in New Zealand’s favour last Saturday and we all know how that one turned out…


KICK OFF: We’re up and running as Kieran Marmion gets the first box kick away from inside the Irish 22.


Canada out-half tries a little dink in behind the back of the Irish line but Tiernan O’Halloran is alive to the threat and claims with authority. He’s tackled in the air — penalty Ireland and a good chance to kick into Canadian territory.


OOOF! Finlay Bealham lays down an early marker and steps up out of the line to level Canadian loosehead Djustice Sears-Duru. Great hit.


Craig Gilroy tries to make something happen for Ireland with a little grubber but there aren’t enough green jerseys to make it worthwhile. Braid clears to touch for Canada and Ireland will start again,


Big carries from Cian Healy and Sean Cronin set Ireland on a good platform. Earls has Garry Ringrose on his shoulder and, for a second, he looks like he’s set for a dream debut… but Gordon McRorie gets back just in time to make the interception. Close.

Flag 6Mins

TRY! Ireland 7-0 Canada (Earls, 6′)

There it is! Ireland win the lineout and bring it down into a controlled maul. Marmion comes off the blindside and Earls is there on his shoulder to dart into the corner under little pressure. Jackson slots the conversion from a tricky angle – you couldn’t ask for a better start really.


Sean O’Brien is enjoying his return to international rugby. He makes good ground and then flicks a lovely offload out of the back of his hand to Craig Gilroy. We’ve missed you, Seanie.

Sean OÕBrien Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


That’s encouraging for Canada — they’ve just steamrolled the Irish scrum. Really solid effort.


Good breakdown work from Canada as Earls is temporarily isolated but Jack O’Donoghue arrives in time to secure some messy possession.

A couple of passages later, Ringrose, his fellow debutant, is confident under the high ball.


Great wheels from Ultan Dillane as he turns on the pace to beat a couple of Canadian defenders before he’s eventually wrapped up by the covering Matt Evans inside 22.

Cronin makes some big yards up through the middle. There’s advantage coming Ireland’s way for a knock-on so Jackson tries a little chip and chase but it’s snuffed out. Back for the scrum.


That was a chance!

It’s a set piece off the back of the scrum and Jack O’Donoghue is the man with the ball. He turns back inside looking for the reverse to Sean O’Brien but the pass is inches ahead of where O’Brien needs it to be and it brushes off his fingertips before falling to ground.

O’Brien is disappointed not to have held on, and O’Donoghue will know he could have made life that tiny bit easier there. Fine margins.


Trrrrryyyy…NO! Garry Ringrose twists and turns his way over for what looks to be a debut try – but no, it has been called back. The pass from Jackson was ever so slightly forward.

All is not lost though. Ireland had a penalty advantage and they’ll go to the corner.

Flag 21Mins

TRY! Ireland 14-0 Canada (Marshall, 21′)

That’s a second try for Ireland, and just reward for a very patient build up. I lost count of how many phases the forwards boshed their way through but there was no breakthrough coming and so Marmion reverses the play.

Some brilliant footwork by Earls to create the opening and then Jackson does brilliantly to get his pass away before he’s tackled. Marshall is all on his own on the right wing and he reaches out to touch down in the corner.

Jackson nails the conversion again. That’s two from two.

Flag 24Mins

TRY! Ireland 14-7 Canada (Van der Merwe, 24′)

An Irish slip – and it’s punished. Moments after his try, Luke Marshall tries to float a long pass to Tiernan O’Halloran. It’s way too ambitious, and in the air for way too long, and DTH van der Merwe doesn’t need to be asked twice. He steps up, intercepts, and races in for one of the easiest tries he’ll score.

Flag 29Mins

TRY! Ireland 14-14 Canada (Paris, 29′)

Canada’s tails are up and they decide to go for the corner with a penalty. It’s a clean take by Olmstead off the lineout and the cavalry are summoned to maul the mass of red bodies towards the line. They get there, and it’s Taylor Paris who gets the ball to ground.

This wasn’t in the plan at all. Scrum-half Gordon McRorie converts – a tricky one, too – and we’re all square after half an hour.

Taylor Paris scores his sides second try Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO


Ireland being made to work for every yard on this possession and as the phase count enters double-digits, they’re still short of the Canadian 10-metre line. Jackson sends the ball high but Matt Evans does well to claim it.

Marshall was underneath him but had eyes only for the ball – the replay shows that he was also nudged into the tackle by Taylor Paris.

It’s called fair by referee Marius van der Westhuizen initially on the field but after a TMO review, it’s a penalty to Canada. No card for Marshall, which seems appropriate.

Flag 38Mins

Tiernan OÕHalloran scores a try Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

TRY! Ireland 21-14 Canada (O’Halloran, 38′)

The last few minutes have been a bit of a slog but a moment of Connacht magic has Ireland back in front with try number three.

Canada are grinding out the yards in Irish territory but they’re a little bit loose at the breakdown. The ball squirts loose and Jackson pounces to get Ireland on the front foot, but the crucial moment belongs to Finlay Bealham who rides the tackle and then pops a perfect offload to Connacht team-mate Tiernan O’Halloran who is steaming through on the perfect line.

From there, it’s a formality. O’Halloran races half the length of the pitch to score, Jackson converts and Ireland lead again.


HALF TIME: Ireland 21-14 Canada

A little bit of afters there as Sean O’Brien and Evan Olmstead clash right on the stroke of half-time. It looks like Olmstead dived into that final ruck head first and O’Brien wasn’t best pleased. The TMO has a look but there’s nothing doing and the teams head off down the tunnel.

Back in five.


SECOND HALF: Teams are back out – no obvious changes on either side – and Paddy Jackson gets us underway.


Ireland straight on to the front foot and Craig Gilroy is wrapped up a yard or two short of the line. Wrapped up and not released, so it will be an Irish penalty. Marmion thinks about the quick tap but Peter O’Mahony tells him to calm it down and Ireland will take the scrum instead.


Break in play there while Peter O’Mahony engages the referee in a brief discussion about whether or not the Canadian defenders need to be bound to the ruck. Nobody really has a clue what the current rules are, do they?

Flag 45Mins

PENALTY TRY! Ireland 28-14 Canada (45′)

Huge effort by the Irish pack at that scrum and Canada collapse. Mr van der Westhuizen doesn’t bother awarding another penalty and just goes straight underneath the posts for a penalty try. No arguments. Jackson converts.


Ireland smell blood here and want to turn the screw. Great break by Ringrose, and then some quick hands from the Irish forwards — a little bit too quick for Jack O’Donoghue who can’t quite get his own hands right and spills it forward.


Ireland sub: John Ryan is on at tighthead to make his debut, replacing Finlay Bealham. Not much to fault in Bealham’s effort there today, mind you.


How about that for a start to your Test career?! John Ryan is immediately into his first scrum and has Djustice Sears-Duru in all sorts of trouble – Irish penalty.


Chance goes a-begging. Tiernan O’Halloran makes it with a quick step to the outside but Keith Earls slightly overruns the pass and it goes to ground. Ireland’s accuracy with that final ball has let down more than once this evening.


We’re off to the TMO to have a look at a breakdown incident involving Billy Holland. He has his hands around the neck of a Canadian player but, as the referee explains, there’s no attempt to grab or pull the neck. Still, it’s a penalty but no yellow for Holland.


Oooooooh, this is close – but if it’s not a Canada try, it’s solely down to some amazing work by Tiernan O’Halloran.

Try / no try is the question?

Flag 57Mins

TRY! Ireland 28-21 Canada (Evans, 57′)

It’s a try for Canada and for Matt Evans — but Tiernan O’Halloran is desperately unluckly not to see his name in lights there.

The Canada fullback makes a break for the corner and gets a strong hand-off on Craig Gilroy, who falls off the tackle. O’Halloran is covering and as Evans goes to ground the ball, he locks on to it. It looks like his body position is good enough to stop Evans grounding before they roll into touch but the replay shows he just got it down.

McRorie converts with another peach. The place-kicking has been something else this evening.


TRY! Ireland 35-21 Canada (Dillane 59′)

You couldn’t ask for a better response! From the restart, Keith Earls floors DTH van der Merwe with a perfectly-timed tackle and as the Canadian wing spills the ball forward, it gives Ireland great position. They drive towards the line and Ultan Dillane is the man who applies the finishing touch.

Ultan Dillane scores his sides fifth try Source: James Crombie/INPHO


Ireland sub: Another Ireland debut as James Tracy is on to replace Sean Cronin.


Keith Earls is nudged off the ball as he tried a little kick and chase down the line. Penalty Ireland and they go to the corner.


Ack, the final pass costs Ireland again. Tracy’s first lineout is bang on the money and the hooker collects at the back of the maul. Ireland are told to use it and Marmion tries a quick pop to Marshall but it’s spilled forward.


Great scrum by Ireland against the head and they have Canada in all sorts of problems. The visitors get the ball back on their own side but they’re under pressure and a knock on quickly follows. Ireland put-in.


TRY! Ireland 42-21 Canada (Marmion, 66′)

Kieran Marmion is the man whose name will go down on the scoresheet but it’s on the back of another massive scrum by Kilcoyne, Tracy and Ryan in that new-look front row. For the second scrum in quick succession, they have Canada marching backwards and all over the shop. The penalty try is surely coming but the ball squirts loose out of the back and Marmion dives on it to touch down.

Ireland celebrate Kieran Marmion's try Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


Ireland subs: Luke McGrath, Niyi Adeolokun, Joey Carbery and Dan Leavy are all on. Sean O’Brien is one of those to make way — will we be seeing the Tank again next Saturday night against the All Blacks?


Just under 10 minutes to play and spread backers won’t need me to remind them that Ireland need two more tries to cover…


TRY! Ireland 47-21 Canada (O’Halloran, 78′)

Great link by Earls and Ringrose as Ireland look for try number seven. Ireland manage to recycle and Carbery tries to step inside — he’s brought down yards short. Ireland are hammering and surely Canada must crack… and they do! Ringrose spins away from the tackle and finds O’Halloran as the last man out wide and he dives into the corner.

Carbery’s conversion attempt looks good but it’s just off the mark.

Tiernan OÕHalloran celebrates his try Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


Ultan Dillane is named the RTÉ Man of the Match.


The clock is in the red… can Ireland get one more?

Flag 80Mins

TRY! Ireland 52-21 Canada (Tracy, 80+2′)

They can – and it’s debutant hooker James Tracy! Talk about making the most of your opportunity. Carbery can’t convert but Ireland break the 50-point mark, and it’s on to the All Blacks.

So that’s it from the Aviva Stadium. It wasn’t always pretty, and it wasn’t always easy, but eight tries and plenty of encouraging Irish performances — many of them from players getting their first taste of Test rugby — made this a very worthwhile exercise.

I guess All Blacks week starts here so, does it?

That’s all from me for now but stay with us for lots of reaction and analysis from Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell over the course of the evening.

Thanks for reading.

About the author:

Niall Kelly