Ireland's World Cup campaign up and running with bonus-point victory over Canada

Job done for Joe Schmidt’s men in their Pool D opener.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland 50

Canada 7

IRELAND GOT THEIR World Cup campaign off to a solid start with a seven-try victory against Canada at the Millennium Stadium.

Man-of-the-match Jonathan Sexton spearheaded an Irish performance loaded with intensity and width while Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony and Iain Henderson were everywhere.

Ireland were brimming with intensity early on in the contest but a flurry of handling errors upset their momentum. Sexton settled things down with a penalty in the 13th minute to get his side on the board.

Sexton was causing havoc in the wide channels with his trademark wraparound the theme of a dominant first half. The Irish forwards were causing Canada all kinds of issues up front with Jamie Cudmore dispatched the sin-bin for cynical play in the ruck with the Irish pack camped on their line.

The Clermont veteran’s yellow card proved costly as Ireland scored three tries in his absence. First, the outstanding O’Brien rumbled over off the back of a surging lineout maul.

Henderson made amends for botching an overlap earlier in half as the Ulster lock powered over from close range. Fittingly, Sexton went over for Ireland’s third try when O’Brien’s deft inside pass in midfield released the Leinster No 10.

Rob Kearney celebrates scoring their sixth try with Dave Kearney and Paul O'Connell Rob Kearney was one of seven different try scorers. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The green machine was operating smoothly with their next five-point was a thing of beauty. The Canucks were stretched to the limit on the left side thanks with the entire Irish backline involved. Ireland then switched the attack back to the right  with Sexton switching with O’Mahony before releasing Dave Kearney who scythed through for a fine score.

Trailing 29-0, Canada produced their best attacking spell just before half-time but a great defensive read from Luke Fitzgerald forced Canada fly half Nathan Hirayama to pass forward to DTH van der Merwe with the line at his mercy.

Not to be undone by his rival Cudmore, O’Connell was yellow carded early in the second half for playing the ball from an offside position.

Ireland were queuing up the right edge to score with a five on two overlap but Earls dropped Murray’s pass before Sexton was replaced by Ian Madigan in the 55th minute to a huge ovation.

Ireland continued to apply the pressure with Madigan’s cross-field kick to Fitzgerald just a little too far. Canada continued to make the tackles as Ireland struggled to add to the 29 unanswered points in the first half.

Ireland needed some added ballast with Schmidt sending on the entire replacement frontrow on the hour mark. The sight of Cian Healy back on the field was a most welcome addition.

Cian Healy Cian Healy came off the bench to make his injury comeback. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ireland finally added their fifth try in the 65th minute with replacement hooker Sean Cronin barging over from close-range after a powerful run from Jared Payne in the build-up.

Payne, however, was at fault soon after when Van der Merwe seized on the Ulster centre’s chip kick to race clear from 50 metres out.

Rob Kearney combined superbly with Earls down the left wing to cross in the 72nd minute as Ireland finished with a flourish. Madigan scorched through the Canadian cover to tee up Payne for Ireland’s seventh score.

Ireland hammered the Canadian line in the late stages in search of one more try, but Kieran Crowley’s side held firm.

All roads lead to the final Pool D clash with France back here in Cardiff on October 11th. Today was a good start.

Canada scorers:
Tries: Van der Merwe
Conversions: Hirayama
Ireland scorers:
Tries: O’Brien, Henderson, Sexton, D Kearney, Cronin, R Kearney, Payne
Conversions: Sexton (3), Madigan (2)
Penalties: Sexton

Canada: Matt Evans (Underwood ‘48); Jeff Hassler (Trainor  ‘40), Ciaran Hearn, Nick Blevins, DTH van der Merwe; Nathan Hirayama,  Gordon McRorie (Mack ‘47); Hubert Buydens (Sears Duru ‘17), Ray Barkwill (Piffero ‘60), Doug Wooldridge (Tiedemann ‘60); Brett Beukeboom, Jamie Cudmore (capt ); Kyle Gilmour (Sinclair ‘47), John Moonlight, Aaron Carpenter.

Ireland: Rob Kearney; Dave Kearney, Jared Payne, Luke Fitzgerald (Zebo ‘74), Keith Earls; Jonathan Sexton (Madigan ‘55), Conor Murray (Reddan ‘65); Jack McGrath (Healy ’60,) Rory Best (Cronin ‘60), Mike Ross (White ‘60); Iain Henderson, Paul O’Connell (capt) (Ryan ‘74); Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien (Henry ‘62), Jamie Heaslip.

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