Rugby World Cup: Ireland unconvincing in win over Russia

Ireland remain on course for a World Cup quarter-final after easing to an uninspiring 35-0 win over a toothless Russia in Kobe.

Rob Kearney, Corkman Peter O’Mahony and Rhys Ruddock scored first-half tries before Andrew Conway secured the bonus point in the 62nd minute.

Garry Ringrose’s late score put a final exclamation point on an otherwise flat second half performance.

Another five-point win over Samoa would guarantee a place in the last eight.

Ireland now have nine days before their final Pool A assignment in Fukuoka against the Samoans.

Five days on from their already famous defeat by Japan, Ireland knew there was little they could do to change the narrative of their World Cup campaign to date against a side as unfancied as Russia.

The best they could hope for was to secure all five points in a performance that exposed the chasm of quality between the two sides and showed signs of a team with the skill-set to match any side in the tournament.

While the victory was never in doubt from the moment Kearney opened the scoring with his fifth try in six World Cup matches inside two minutes, moments of real quality were notable by their absence, particularly in an error-strewn second half.

Captaining the side from the start for the first time on his 86th international appearance, Johnny Sexton returned to Ireland’s line-up having missed the Japan match through injury.

HIs half-time withdrawal only served to further underline how vital the 34-year-old remains to this Ireland side.

With the result of the game beyond doubt, Joe Schmidt wasted no time in ensuring his star man left Kobe unscathed as he handed Jack Carty the reins for the second half.

After Kearney raced over off the back of a neat set-piece move, O’Mahony added Ireland’s second after 12 minutes as he latched onto Sexton’s grubber-kick.

A first half that began in the manner that Ireland would have hoped began to stagnate as Ireland struggled to maintain a fluency against a side who offered so little with the ball.

As the strong Irish contingent in the crowd began to grow restless, Ruddock bulldozed over the the help of John Ryan to send Schmidt’s side into the interval with a spring in their step.

Although the first half was by no means dazzling, it was certainly a more controlled display than the 40 minutes after the break, in which the break-down in fluency could once again be correlated with Sexton’s absence.

 

 

 

 

 

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