Ireland 27 Scotland 3
WINNING tournaments is all about building momentum and Ireland got their World Cup off to the best possible start with a bonus point win over Scotland in Yokohama.
Ireland shot out of the blocks with three quick-fire tries in the first half and served notice to the other contenders that they will be a force to be reckoned with after they put themselves in the driving seat of their pool.
Ireland were solid in all the parts of the game that gave them such a memorable 2018.
Their setpiece and recycling were spot on and their linespeed in defence caught the Scots off guard.
All told that ensured that Finn Russell never got to boss the game and cause any sort of mayhem. In fact he was largely anonymous yesterday.
Ireland’s captain was one of the standout performers and stayed the course for the full 80 minutes.
His throwing to the lineout was on the money with a 100% return from his throws and that allowed Ireland build momentum out of touch and keep Scotland on the back foot.
It wasn’t all roses for the Irish and they now have to wait on the injury news to Bundee Aki and Peter O’Mahony.
That pair may not be ready for next Saturday’s clash with Japan with just a six-day turnaround.
If Ireland play to the same tempo and with the same accuracy against the home nation, the pair won’t be needed anyway.
Ireland were well in control at the interval leading 19-3 after a vintage display in the first half.
Their opening half performance was ruthless with every player stepping up to the mark.
Ireland got off to a great start with a try from after five minutes from James Ryan after he scored a great try from close in.
Within another six minutes Ireland had stretched their lead through Rory Best who got the tip of the ball down just over the line. The score had been built of an accurate throw from the captain and an equally accurate finish.
Scotland did manage to get three points back through a Craig Laidlaw penalty in a half where the Scots weren’t allowed any room by a tight Irish defence.
Tadhg Furlong was next over the line 25 minutes into the game after Andrew Conway had earned a five-metre scrum from a kick and chase ball when he trapped Stuart Hogg behind his own line.
Conor Murray added the conversion for a 19-3 lead and that’s the way it stayed with Murray missing a long-range penalty on the stroke of half time.
Scotland started to come back into in the early stages of the second half with some patient phase play but a Johnny Barclay knock on robbed them of momentum.
Just shy of the hour mark, a great kick chase by Jordan Larmour got Ireland deep into Scots territory and a great eye for space by Conor Murray saw Munster winger Andrew Conway score in the corner for Ireland’s bonus point try much to the delight of his team-mates.
Jack Carty added his first score of the World Cup with a penalty with 13 minutes to go to make it 27-3.
Two minutes later Scotland were in the Ireland five-metre area but Joe Schmidt’s side refused to buckle and a great steal on the deck by Jack Conan saw 14-man Ireland claim a penalty.
They were down a man after Tadhg Beirne was sent to the bin for a professional foul but it mattered little as the Scots couldn’t break down the Irish rearguard.
Scorers for Ireland: Tries: J Ryan, R Best, T Furlong, A Conway: cons: J Sexton, C Murray. Pen J Carty.
Scotland: pen C Laidlaw.
IRELAND: J Larmour, A Conway, G Ringrose, B Aki, J Stockdale, J Sexton, C Murray, C Healy,, R Best, T Furlong, I Henderson, J Ryan, P O’Mahony, J van der Flier, CJ Stander.
Replacements: J Conan for O’Mahony (25), C Farrell for Aki, (26), D Kilcoyne for Healy, A Porter for Furlong (both 50), T Beirne for Henderson, L McGrath for Murray J Carty for Sexton (all 58), N Scannell for van der Flier (74).
SCOTLAND: S Hogg, T Seymour, D Taylor, S Johnson, S Maitland, F Russell, G Laidlaw, A Dell, S McInally (c), W Nel, G Gilcrest, J Gray, J Barclay, H Watson, R Wilson.
Replacements: F Brown for Watson (39), B Thomson for Barclay, S Berghan for Nell (both 53), D Graham for Seymour (58), S Cummings for Gray, C Harris for Taylor (both 65), G Reid, for Dell, A Price for Laidlaw (both 62).
Referee: W Barnes (Eng).