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5 times Ireland were given a World Cup scare by minnows

Come at us, Canada.

5. Ireland 45 – 17 Romania (RWC 2003)

Brian O'Driscoll Source: INPHO

Ireland began their 2003 campaign with an ultimately comfortable victory over Romania, but they didn’t have it all their own way and Eddie O Sullivan’s side were certainly made to work for the win.

They seemed to be on their way to a routine victory after tries from Shane Horgan and Keith Wood gave them a 26-0 lead at half-time. But Romania started the second half with renewed vigour and were rightly rewarded with a try after 44 minutes.

Romeo Gontineac was awarded a penalty try after being cynically fouled by David Humphreys as he chased down his own kick ahead. Ireland were then given a real scare when Gontineac added a penalty and both Girvan Dempsey and Humphreys saved Irish blushes with try-saving tackles.

They eventually reestablished control and scores from Denis Hickie and Victor Costello secured the invaluable bonus point.

4. Ireland 46 – 19 Canada (1987)

Derek McGrath 1987 Source: INPHO

Ireland will kick off their 2015 campaign against Canada at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The two sides have only ever met once on game’s greatest stage, back in 1987 at the inaugural tournament co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

Ireland ran over six tries in a 46-19 victory that day. But Canada provided a tougher test than anyone would have imagined in the build-up. Gareth Rees kicked 15 points and 36-year-old hooker Mark Cardinaal adding a try on that day.

3. Ireland 22 – 10 United States (2011)

USA and Ireland teams line up for the national anthem USA and Ireland teams line up for the national anthem. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ireland began their 2011 campaign on the back of four defeats in their warm-up games in August and their opening game inspire much more confidence. They won unconvincingly against World Cup minnows United States, the 22-10 scoreline meaning Ireland did not secure a bonus point.

The first half was littered with Irish handling errors but Tommy Bowe did manage to score a try just before half-time. James Paterson got the Americans off the mark with a penalty before Rory best and Bowe pounced for two more Irish tries.

Ireland might have expected to go on and get a bonus point by scoring a fourth try with 20 minutes left.But they could not find a way through a highly committed American defence, and with the last move of the match, Gordon D’Arcy’s loose pass gifted veteran Emerick the chance to streak clear for the USA.

2. Ireland 32 – 17 Namibia (2007)

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

All the talk in the build-up to the 2007 Rugby World Cup surrounded the so-called “Group of Death” and the challenges Ireland faced from France and Argentina. Little thought was given to Namibia, the lowest ranked team in the World Cup, who Ireland faced in their opening game.

It was a far from convincing victory. In truth, Ireland would have been a little disappointed that they had only scored three tries at half-time.

But they could have never imagined that heading into the final quarter, it was the Africans who were playing with greater conviction. First, Jacques Nieuwenhuis thundered over for a 61st minute try. Piet van Zyl quickly added another score but Ireland finished them off with a late controversial try.

1. Ireland 14 – 10 Georgia (2007)

Ireland dejected after Georgia score Ireland team dejected after Georgia score a try. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

A below-par Ireland came very close to a shock defeat to Georgia in 2007. Eddie O’Sullivan’s side had to withstand late pressure as they clung on for a narrow victory.

After a comfortable opening to the game, Ireland heaped pressure on themselves when a wayward pass from Peter Stringer to Brian O’Driscoll was intercepted by Shkinin and the Georgian winger ran in under the posts.

And they didn’t rest there. Georgia were by far the better team for the remainder of the game and finished very strongly, keeping possession and pounding away in the opposition half.

It was hearts in mouths stuff as Denis Leamy denied Georgia late on, with referee Wayne Barnes seeking confirmation from the video referee that the ball had been held up. Georgia had thrown everything at Ireland in the dying moments and were unlucky not to secure an unlikely win.

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About the author:

Donal Lucey

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