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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 4 March 2021


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Good evening and welcome along to our live coverage of Ireland’s final fixture of what has been a momentous year, as Joe Schmidt’s side bid to complete a November clean sweep against USA at the Aviva Stadium.

After last weekend’s historic win over the All Blacks here, Schmidt has taken this opportunity to cast his eye over his wider squad, with Ireland’s XV showing 14 changes in personnel.

USA, meanwhile, visit the Aviva for the first time and they themselves have enjoyed a brilliant year, winning all nine of their Test matches in 2018 but this is by far their biggest challenge.

Kick-off is at 6.30pm, and we’ll have all the build-up between now and then. 

The scene is set as another sell-out crowd descends on the Aviva.

9 year old Rian and Grace King Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Madeline White and Steve Weinman Source: Inpho

A general view of the Aviva Stadium Source: Inpho

A view of the Ireland jerseys in the dressing room ahead of today's game Source: Inpho

TEAM NEWS: Schmidt has made 14 changes in personnel for the visit of the Eagles, with Garry Ringrose the only player retained from last week.

Rhys Ruddock captains the side from the back row, as Ulster’s John Cooney is handed his first start at scrum-half, while there are big opportunities for Will Addison, Joey Carbery and Andrew Conway to stake their claim in the backline.

Up front, Finlay Bealham makes his first appearance at the Aviva in two years and packs down alongside Niall Scannell and Dave Kilcoyne in the front row, with Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson forming the second row pairing.

Ruddock, Jack Conan and Jordi Murphy are in the engine room, while Sammy Arnold is in line for a first cap off the bench. 


15. Will Addison
14. Andrew Conway
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Darren Sweetnam
10. Joey Carbery
9. John Cooney

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Niall Scannell
3. Finlay Bealham 
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. Iain Henderson
6. Rhys Ruddock (captain)
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Jack Conan.


16. Rob Herring
17. Cian Healy
18. John Ryan
19. Quinn Roux
20. Josh van der Flier
21. Luke McGrath
22. Ross Byrne
23. Sam Arnold.

TEAM NEWS: There are plenty of Irish connections in Gary Gold’s USA matchday 23, with Exiles Paul Mullen and John Quill named in the starting XV, and Dylan Fawsitt on the bench.

Gold has made three changes to his side from last weekend’s victory over Romania, with scrum-half Shaun Davies returning and Hanco Germishuys and Will Hooley also recalled.

Mullen, who represented Munster at underage level and qualifies to represent USA through the residency, starts at tighthead prop while Cork-born flanker Quill is set to win his 30th cap in the back row.

The visitors are captained by Cardiff Blues winger Blaine Scully, and have further European experience in the form of Saracens prop Titi Lamositele, Joe Taufete’e of Worcester, Glasgow lock Greg Peterson, Paul Lasike who is playing with Harlequins and Bryce Campbell of London Irish.


15. Will Hooley
14. Blaine Scully (captain)
13. Bryce Campbell
12. Paul Lasike
11. Marcel Brache 
10. Will Magie
9. Shaun Davies

1. Titi Lamositele
2. Joe Taufete’e
3. Paul Mullen
4. Greg Peterson
5. Nick Civetta
6. John Quill
7. Hanco Germishuys
8. Cam Dolan.


16. Dylan Fawsitt
17. Chance Wenglewsk
18. Dino Waldren
19. Samu Manoa 
20. David Tameilau
21. Ruben de Haas
22. Gannon Moore
23. Ryan Matyas. 

The teams are in the house.

Joe Schmidt arrives at the stadium Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Andrew Conway Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ryan Matyas arrives at the stadium Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ireland are bidding to extend their record home Test winning run to 12 this evening, while Schmidt’s side have won 17 of their last 18 Tests in all.

Which way do you see this one going?

Poll Results:

Ireland (567)
USA (44)
Draw (15)

These sides have met nine times, with Ireland boasting a 100% record, including the 55-19 victory in New Jersey in June 2017.

Luke McGrath Luke McGrath in action against USA in 2017. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

  • November 5, 1994 – Autumn Test: Ireland 26-15 USA, Lansdowne Road
  • January 6, 1996 – Mid-Year Test: USA 18-25 Ireland, Life College Stadium, Atlanta
  • October 2, 1999 – Rugby World Cup Pool E: Ireland 53-8 USA, Lansdowne Road
  • June 10, 2000 – Summer Tour: USA 3-83 Ireland, Singer Family Park, Manchester
  • November 20, 2004 – Autumn Test: Ireland 55-6 USA, Lansdowne Road
  • May 31, 2009 – Summer Tour: USA 10-27 Ireland, Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara
  • September 11, 2011 – Rugby World Cup Pool C: Ireland 22-10 USA, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
  • June 8, 2013 – Summer Tour: USA 12-15 Ireland, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston
  • June 10, 2017 – Summer Tour: USA 19-55 Ireland, Red Bull Arena, New Jersey

Joey Carbery ahead of the game Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Blaine Scully and Rhys Ruddock with referee Ben O'Keeffe at the coin toss Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Chloe Abbott Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The teams have completed their warm-ups and are back in the sheds. Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Porter and CJ Stander were out there with Ireland, and are now doing a few final shuttle runs on the pitch. We’re very nearly ready to go. 

The teams are out and meeting Michael D. Higgins. In the meantime, here’s Joe Schmidt speaking to RTÉ pre-match.

Anthems complete, we’re ready to go at a sold-out Aviva. Ireland are in their alternate kit tonight, USA playing in all white. 

KICK OFF! We’re underway as Kiwi referee Ben O’Keeffe gives Will Magie the thumbs up to get us up and running. 


2 mins – A frantic start to proceedings as Ireland dominate possession in the opening exchanges, with Darren Sweetnam bursting down the left but his offload inside doesn’t go to hand.

Flag 4Mins

3 mins — TRY! Ireland 7-0 USA (Andrew Conway)

Brilliant start for Schmidt’s Ireland as Conway starts and finishes the move, which included a brilliant step and surge from Ruddock in midfield. Carbery tacks on the extras from out on the left.


7 mins – Really strong and purposeful start from Ireland and having spoken about trying to come off his wing more during the week, Conway did just that to create and score the hosts’ opening score. 


9 mins – Stuart McCloskey concedes a sloppy penalty within the scoring zone and USA have the chance to get on the board, but Will Magie snatches at his effort off the tee and misses to the left. That was a poor kick from the out-half. 


11 mins – Ireland have been forced to defend their own line since Conway’s try but Jordi Murphy relieves the pressure with a trademark turnover on the ground. 


13 mins — TRY! Ireland 7-7 USA (Joe Taufete’e)

The visitors hit back! A well-worked move off the lineout catches Ireland cold down the blindside and Worcester hooker Joe Taufete’e shows his power to evade the tackles of Bealham and Conway, before he rides the final tackle attempt to finish. That was sloppy from Ireland. 

Flag 17Mins

16 mins — TRY! Ireland 14-7 USA (Conway)

But Ireland restore their lead almost instantly, and it all came from a Garry Ringrose break after Henderson stole possession at the breakdown. The hosts moved it from left to right and showed composure to finish in the far corner with the overlap, as Conway goes over for his second. Brilliant hands from Beirne and Addison in the build-up.

Carbery, meanwhile, nails his conversion attempt from the far side.


18 mins – Breathless start to this Test match, and USA are more than holding their own as they produce another big defensive set to hold McCloskey up in contact and win the turnover. 


21 mins – USA are enjoying plenty of ball and certainly have enough about them to trouble this Irish defence, and the home side concede another penalty as Beirne takes the man out in the air at lineout time. Gold’s side showing good ambition by kicking for the corner…


22 mins – USA get clean ball at the lineout and Ireland are struggling to contain their rolling maul here, with the visitors rumbling towards the whitewash…

Flag 21Mins

23 mins — TRY! Ireland 14-14 USA (Penalty try)

And Iain Henderson illegally stops the maul and Ben O’Keeffe not only awards the penalty try, but sends the Ulster second row to the bin for 10 minutes. 


24 mins – It’s end-to-end at the moment, with the teams taking it in turns to attack. Ringrose very nearly breaks the line again after Addison showed excellent hands to stoop, slide and gather the clearing kick in midfield. USA are then pinged for being offside and Carbery has called for the tee. 


26 mins — Penalty! Ireland 17-14 USA (Carbery)

The out-half makes no mistake as he strikes his third attempt off the tee sweetly to restore Ireland’s lead.


27 mins – Ireland have been forced into a backline reshuffle here. Darren Sweetnam appears to have picked up a knock and limps off, with Ross Byrne on for his second cap. It means Carbery goes back to 15, Addison comes to the left wing and Byrne slots in at out-half.


30 mins – Carbery taking the points there is a sure sign of respect for the USA, and they certainly haven’t come here to roll over. Gold’s side have been very strong at the set-piece and are making a real Test match of this. 



31 mins – Ireland have pitched tent inside the USA 22, showing huge patience through the phases but the visitors weather the storm and force Ringrose to knock on as he put the head down for the line. Impressive stuff from the world number 13 side. 

Flag 32Mins

33 mins — TRY! Ireland 24-14 USA (Jack Conan)

But Ireland are in for their third shortly after, and Conway is heavily involved again as he makes another line break, offloading for the supporting Conan as the Leinster number eight scores his fifth international try. Carbery adds the extras. Sucker-punch for the USA. 


35 mins – Henderson is back on but Ross Byrne has just been run over by USA flanker Hanco Germishuys and the visitors are within striking distance again. That all came from a poor restart from Ireland. 


36 mins – A better shove from the Ireland pack five metres from their own line earns a relieving penalty, which Carbery launches down the touchline. 

From the lineout, Ireland surge over halfway with a powerful maul move and USA are penalised for coming in at the side. 


38 mins – More frustration, though, as the lineout is overthrown and then a knock-on compounds things from an Ireland point of view. A let off for the States. 


40 mins – Addison has been really bright again and shows his pace on that occasion, streaking around the outside before offloading brilliantly for Conway. Carbery then ships a big hit as Quill made an aggressive read, before USA are pinged for being off their feet. 

Flag 40Mins

Half-time! Ireland 24-14 USA 

Another steal allows USA to get in at the break 10 points down, and the visitors will be relatively pleased with their first-half showing despite trailing on the scoreboard.

Gary Gold’s side have acquitted themselves well and have certainly made Ireland work hard, who lead courtesy of an Andrew Conway brace and Jack Conan’s fifth international try.

Joey Carbery has kicked nine points from the tee, but there is plenty to work on for Schmidt’s side in the second period. 


What did you make of Ireland’s first-half showing? Addison and Conway have stood out so far, but you’ve got to feel for Darren Sweetnam who was forced off through injury. USA are clearly well-coached, are strong at the set-piece and have caused the home side problems. It should be an interesting second period. 


KICK OFF! The teams are back out for the second half and Ross Byrne gets us up and running again. 


41 mins – Munster’s Sammy Arnold is on for his debut in place of Addison, who is said to be undergoing a HIA. 


43 mins – Lengthy stoppage in play here after Joe Taufete’e went down following a heavy collision with Henderson and there’s real concern for the USA hooker. He appeared to be out cold as he hit the turf, and there are plenty of medics attending to him. 


44 mins – Taufete’e is taken off on a stretcher and while this is not the circumstances Dylan Fawsitt would have wanted to come on in, this is a massive moment for the former Blackrock College hooker. He played alongside Conway and Jordi Murphy in school and is on against his native country at the Aviva. 


47 mins – We’re back underway with an Ireland scrum on halfway and Kilcoyne wins the penalty. The hosts then go through the phases, pushing and probing inside USA territory, before winning another penalty under the hosts. Ruddock opts for the scrum. 


47 mins – John Ryan is on for Bealham and has an instant impact, helping Ireland produce a huge shove which yields another scrum penalty. 


52 mins – Ireland hammer away five metres out and it looks like their pressure has eventually told, with Beirne barging his way over. The referee wants to go upstairs and confirm the grounding, however, but this looks a certain try. 

Flag 53Mins

52 mins — TRY! Ireland 31-14 USA (Beirne)

Ireland got McCloskey over the gainline off the back of another commanding scrum, and Beirne completes the finish from close range. Carbery makes no mistake from the tee.


56 mins – Ireland are completely dominate at the scrum, but Stuart McCloskey is not enjoying a good enough. The Ulster centre has his head in his hands after another sloppy handling error. 

Rob Herring and Quinn Roux are both on, meanwhile, with Scannell and Henderson making way. 


58 mins – Andrew Conway, on a hat-trick, very nearly pierces through after Jack Conan’s brilliant block down gets Ireland back in attacking mode. There’s a penalty advantage coming and Byrne is looking for McCloskey with a cross-field kick…


59 mins — TRY! Ireland 36-14 USA (McCloskey)

And it’s executed to perfection! Byrne is the king of the kick pass, as he picks the unmarked McCloskey out brilliantly, and the Ulster centre — with his first touch after that midfield knock-on — falls over the whitewash. Carbery’s 100% kicking record is gone as he tugs his conversion attempt left.


62 mins – Luke McGrath has replaced John Cooney at nine.


65 mins – Cian Healy has also entered proceedings as Ireland move within striking distance again. Into the ninth phase…


66 mins — TRY! Ireland 43-14 USA (Quinn Roux)

And it’s Quinn Roux who eventually gets over for his first Ireland try, after the forwards got through mountains of work to power and pummel their way into position. It all came from a lineout as McCloskey and then Beirne got over the gainline. 


66 mins – Josh van der Flier is on for the final 14 minutes, as Conan makes way. 


70 mins – Ireland showing good attacking ambition from deep as Carbery takes the ball to the line, as he tries to get around the outside. The hosts then move it back the other way but McCloskey’s pass for Conway appears to be slapped down, but the referee doesn’t see it that way. USA scrum after the Munster winger was unable to gather cleanly. 


71 mins — TRY! Ireland 48-14 USA (Luke McGrath)

Oh that’s sensational! Ireland turn defence into attack after USA spill possession. Healy feeds Conway on the right and the Munster winger chips and collects, before unselfishly gifting the supporting McGrath with his fourth Irish try.  


72 mins — No try!

Hang on. TMO Ian Davies alerts the referee to a forward pass from Healy in the build-up and McGrath’s score is chalked off. A shame.


76 mins — TRY! Ireland 50-14 USA (Conway)

A moment of magic from Ringrose sets up Conway for his hat-trick. The Leinster centre is so graceful in possession and he dances through midfield, before a glorious step back inside allows him offload out of contact to the supporting Conway. Superb try. 


Conway has been named man of the match by Bernard Jackman on RTÉ. Hard to disagree — the Munster winger has been the standout performer for Ireland.

Andrew Conway Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Flag 83Mins

80 mins — The clock is red but Ireland are looking to finish with a try. Excellent hands in midfield, brilliant offloading and unrelenting support play. 


80 mins — TRY! Ireland 57-14 USA (Ryan)

Brilliant way to finish for Ireland, as Ryan finishes off a superb team move. Carbery adds another two points to his tally.

Flag 83Mins

Full-time! Ireland 57-14 USA 

And that’s that. Ireland complete a November clean sweep with a commanding victory over the Eagles here at the Aviva Stadium. 


Captain Rhys Ruddock says the scoreline flatters Ireland a bit, but eight tries — including three for Conway — resulted in an emphatic victory for Schmidt’s side. 

Here’s Murray Kinsella’s on-the-whistle report from the Aviva.

Andrew Conway celebrates his try with Rob Herring and Tadhg Beirne Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Thanks for joining us this evening — and indeed throughout the course of this November series. We’ll have plenty more reaction to come from the Aviva Stadium, but until next time goodbye!

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Ryan Bailey


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