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Conan's Barbarian rugby, new kids impress and more talking points from Ireland's big win

Ireland’s Rugby World Cup pool looks even more manageable after this morning’s seven-try rout.

IRELAND CONTINUED THEIR winning ways on their summer tour with a 22 – 50 win over Japan in Shizuoka. You’ll find the match report of the seven-try victory here, but below are a few snap reactions to the result.

Ireland make hay when the sun shines

There wasn’t much wrong with Ireland’s performance up until the 25th minute. They led 3 – 10 (conceding to Japan’s only penalty of the first 30 minutes), the scrum, line-out and maul were functioning well and the phaseplay attack was stretching the hosts. But once tighthead Heiichiro Ito picked up a yellow card for killing the ball after a Keith Earls break – one of many – it all fell apart for Jamie Joseph’s boys.

Dan Leavy celebrates his first try with Cian Healy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Within seconds, a slick line-out move brought Dan Leavy his first international try and the Leinster openside was touching down a second just two minutes later. Earls cut in on a blindside run before unleashing his assist to make it clear that Japan couldn’t cope with the clinical pace in Ireland’s attack with 14 men.

With blood in the water then, a third try was to come in the sin-bin period with Paddy Jackson playing extremely flat and getting Leavy, Niall Scannell and Earls to fix defenders before Conan cantered to the corner.

The pressure was well and truly off from there on in.

Conan and Earls neck and neck for Man of the Tour award

Let’s leave the Lions call-ups and drop-out well aside here and simply say, Keith Earls looks far, far too good to be playing on this three-game trek with a heavy hint of the off-Broadways to it.

Fresh from his brace in New Jersey last week, Earls was again superb, accelerated through gaps with venom and unleashing jaw-dropping passes at pace.

Kotaro Matshima and Keith Earls Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

And yet, it’s not completely surprising that the wing did not top the metres gained stats – no, sorry Devin Toner, not you despite that excellent 30 metre charge –  Conan went away with 121 metres to his name with ball in hand. The majority of that number came on his way to two tries, but the number eight’s finishes were merely the cherry on top of what has already been a marvellous tour for the 24-year-old pretender to Jamie Heaslip’s throne.

His hand-offs, offloads, leg drive and turnovers have all formed an important part of Ireland’s highlight reel today. There will be tougher opponents ahead, but Conan’s mobility and power will make Joe Schmidt think long and hard about his preferred back row combination.

Control at 10

Without Paddy Jackson, Ireland cut extremely loose last weekend. The attacking verve in New Jersey was thrilling at times, with Tiernan O’Halloran, Earls and Kieran Marmion running riot from the start. However, the off-colour display from Joey Carbery put something of a star-spangled sheen on the Eagles’ 19 – 55 defeat on what had been a decent defensive showing.

With Jackson at the wheel in Shizuoka, Schmidt’s side consistently had an assured touch at 10 and the playmaker effortlessly flicked from a flat, attacking presence to a game manager who revelled in pinning the hosts back with both right and his weaker left foot.

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Joe Schmidt with Paddy Jackson Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Rory Scannell again took over out-half duties for the closing stages as Schmidt looks keen to build the utility options behind Jackson and Jonathan Sexton. The Munster man passed well in that position, but there was certainly a loss of shape from Ireland in the final quarter.

ROL on

It’s been a hell of a year for Rory O’Loughlin. Before the start of last season, the 23-year-old was still without a senior Leinster cap to his name. 21 provincial appearances and 10 tries later, he is an Ireland international.

Rory O'Loughlin Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

O’Loughlin’s keen eye for the try-line and ability to play wing as well as centre – where he partnered Garry Ringrose after his 61st minute introduction today – helped him to earn his place on this tour. He acquitted himself well in his cameo off the bench with energy in attack and defence

Tread softly, but carry a big stick

21-year-old Kieran Treadwell was introduced to great effect after the hour. He is on the tour to learn at the heel of Devin Toner, but after James Ryan’s impact last week, it was important to make his presence felt too.

The Ulster lock is a product of the Exiles system and was recruited by Ulster last season after playing under age for Ireland. A relentless work-rate comes naturally, and he used his physique to great effect with impressive clear-out work and a big carry in the lead up to Garry Ringrose’s try.

Rory O’Loughlin and Kieran Treadwell Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

With Iain Henderson with the Lions and Ultan Dillane permitted a valuable summer of R and R, Treadwell and Ryan look set to ensure competition in Ireland’s second row will be fierce for many years to come… not that we wouldn’t welcome Donnacha Ryan back into that equation.

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Keith Earls on fire again as Ireland run 7 past Japan

AS IT HAPPENED: Japan v Ireland, summer tour

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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