Ireland rout Japan as Sexton caps 100th appearance with a try

Munster's Andrew Conway went over three times as Andy Farrell's side hit nine tries at the Aviva
Ireland rout Japan as Sexton caps 100th appearance with a try

Johnny Sexton celebrates after scoring a try on his 100th cap for Ireland with Andrew Conway. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland 60 Japan 5 

A hat-trick from Munster’s Andrew Conway helped Ireland to thoroughly dismantle an extremely disappointing Japan in the opening Autumn International at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon, in what was the most impressive display of the Andy Farrell era.

Ireland opened the scoring in the fourth minute when James Lowe scored a simple try down the left after Bundee Aki and Jack Conan had engineered a numbers mismatch on the blindside, and the Leinster wing just had to take the pass and use his pace to get home in the corner.

Ireland then scored an absolutely cracking try in the 11th minute with Lowe, Gibson-Park, Garry Ringrose, Jonathan Sexton, Conan, Josh van der Flier, Tadhg Beirne, Tadhg Furlong and Aki all keeping the ball alive brilliantly, as Ireland made their way up half the length of the pitch, before scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park put in a beautiful grubber kick in behind the Japanese defence for Andrew Conway to score brilliantly in the right corner.

Ireland were incredibly impressive in the opening quarter, with Japan completely unable to get their hands on the ball, and the third try duly came in the 19th minute when Ireland moved the ball off of an effective attacking lineout, with Aki, Sexton and Hugo Keenan combining to send Conway away to score in the right corner once more, for a classic wingers try.

Sexton added a penalty in the 24th minute to keep the scoreboard ticking over, but there was no fear of a comeback from hapless Japan. They were surprisingly poor, given that they had run Australia close a fortnight ago, and in the 34th minute Ireland were in again, when Ringrose punctured an easy hole in the Japanese line and offloaded to Gibson-Park to dive over to make it 29-0. 

Even though Japan had to soak up further pressure before half time, they somehow managed not to concede again before the break, despite losing hooker Atsushi Sakate to a sinbinning for persistent team infringements.

Captain Sexton scored the next try, on the occasion of his 100th cap, going over from close range in the 49th minute after another Ireland maul had done the damage, allowing Gibson-Park to release his Leinster teammate for the easy score.

Try number six for Ireland came in the 55th minute and it was another sublime score. Both of Ireland’s props were heavily involved in midfield, with Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter instigating the break down the middle, and when Ireland ran it right Jack Conan was able to pop it to Bundee Aki to go over in the corner.

We finally saw some life from Japan in the 57th minute when number eight Kazuki Jimeno sliced through the Ireland defence out wide and he was able to free his left wing Siosaia Fifita to score in the corner.

To show how easy it was for Ireland, Garry Ringrose managed to score a try in the 70th minute, while being the first receiver off of an attacking scrum. The Japanese defence was nowhere near as tight as it had been at the 2019 World Cup.

Japan conceded another sloppy try in the 74th minute when centre Ryoto Nakamura failed to deal with a grubber kick on the deck, and the loitering Andrew Conway was there to capitalise and walk it in to complete his hat-trick.

Veteran Cian Healy burrowed over for the ninth try from close range in the last minute to put the cherry on the icing on the cake, as Ireland won emphatically on the day.

Ireland's Tadhg Beirne with Bundee Aki. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Ireland's Tadhg Beirne with Bundee Aki. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Scorers for Ireland: Sexton (1 try, 1 pen, 4 cons), Carbery (2 cons), Conway (3 tries), Lowe, Gibson-Park, Aki, Ringrose, Healy (1 try each).

Japan: Fifita (1 try).

IRELAND: Keenan; Conway, Ringrose, Aki, Lowe; Sexton (capt), Gibson-Park; Porter, Kelleher, Furlong; Beirne, Ryan, Doris, van der Flier, Conan.

Subs: O’Mahony for van der Flier (50) Healy, Sheehan and Bealham for Porter, Kelleher and Furlong (55), Henderson and Murray for Beirne and Gibson-Park (58), Carbery for Sexton (61), Earls for Aki (67).

JAPAN: Matsushima; Riley, Lafaele, Nakamura, Fifita; Tamura, Nagare; Inaki, Sakate, Gu; Cornelsen, Moore; Gunter, Labuschagne (capt), Jimeno.

Subs: Tokunaga for Gunter (24), Yamanaka for Lafaele (39), Niwai for Tamura (40), Millar, Yalu and Lafaele for Inaki, Gu and Yamanaka (h-t), Saito, Matsuda and Yamanaka for Inaki, Tamura and Nakamura (56), Tatafu for Tokunaga (59), Nakamura for Lafaele (67).

Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)

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