Ireland thump Canada in Rugby World Cup opener

Sean Cronin scores Ireland's fifth try

Ireland ended a two match losing by thumping Canada 50-7 in their Rugby World
Cup opening match in Pool D at the Millennium Stadium.

Ireland had suffered back to back losses in the run up to the World Cup but
kicked off their world cup campaign with a 7 try smashing of Canada.

Jonny Sexton scored a try, three conversions and a penalty for the Six Nations
champions who notched up four first-half tries — and a bonus point in the pool
standings — through Sean O’Brien, Iain Henderson, Sexton and David Kearney,
three converted by Sexton.

Three more tries through Sean Cronin, David Kearney and Jared Payne to complete
the demolition in the second half.

“We handled the ball really well and played some really good rugby,”
said captain Paul O’Connell playing down Ireland’s superiority.

He said the win had helped Ireland get over their World Cup “nerves.”

The first try came when Canada captain Jamie Cudmore had been yellow carded
for a ruck infringement, and left the Canucks with too big a mountain to climb
at 29-0 down at half-time at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

The bonus point could be key in a pool whose winners will likely avoid champions
New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

Sexton was key to everything Ireland did, playing deep in the pocket and opting
to use a backrow forward as a midfield loop-around target to unleash the dangerous
looking Irish backs in a series of well-oiled moves.

While complacency was not quite put to one side in the second-half, O’Connell
was yellow carded and Canada knuckled down in defence before Sean Cronin crossed
for Ireland’s fifth, DTH Van Der Merwe scored a consolation try before Rob Kearney
and Jared Payne wrapped things up.

Canada had the first chance to get the scoreboard ticking after No 8 Jamie
Heaslip failed to roll away from a ruck in the eighth minute but Gordon McRorie’s
long-range effort fell short and wide.

When the North Americans strayed offside as their defence desperately rallied
to hold firm, Sexton was left with a straightforward pot at the posts to hand
Ireland the early advantage.

Man-of-the-match Sexton spurned a second penalty minutes later to play the
ball quickly, with Canada rattled. From the ensuing action, Cudmore was sin
binned for playing the ball on the ground, Ireland kicked for corner touch and
a well-worked driving line-out saw Sean O’Brien cross for a try, Sexton kicking
the extras.

With Cudmore still off the pitch, Ireland turned the screw at the scrum, Heaslip
broke and Henderson crashed over for a close-range try also converted by Sexton.

The fly-half showed a clean pair of heels after a neat inside O’Brien pass
to outpace the cover for a third try, unable to convert from the touchline.

Coach Joe Schmidt had warned that Ireland needed to convert any creative chances
they had, and winger Dave Kearney duly made sure of a crucial bonus point when
he finished off another well-worked backs move, Sexton nailing his third conversion.

Canada thought they might have had a try of their own when Van Der Merwe crossed
in the corner on the stroke of half-time, but Nathan Hirayama’s tap-on was ruled
to have gone forward.

O’Connell received a yellow card for a blatant offside two minutes into the
second period, but the well-organised Irish defence had no problems repelling
wave after wave of Canadian attack.

Ian Madigan came on for Sexton on 55 minutes, a harried Canada pinned back
deep in their own half but withstanding the Irish pressure.

The breakthrough finally came when replacement hooker Cronin crashed over after
another effective driving line-out, Madigan kicking the conversion.

Almost immediately, Canada hit back with an intercept consolation try through
Van Der Merwe, Hirayama knocking over the extras.

Ireland had the last word when first Rob Kearney sprinted in after a turnover
saw Keith Earls sacamper up the left wing and feed inside, and then Payne was
on hand after Madigan split the tiring defence.

Final Score Ireland 50 (29) Canada 7 (0)

Scorers

Ireland
Tries – O’Brien, Henderson, Sexton, Kearney (2), Cronin, Payne
Pen – Sexton
Con – Sexton (3), Madigan (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Canada
Tries – van der Merwe
Pen –
Con – Hirayama
Drop –
Cards –

Match Official
Referee
: Glen Jackson (NZL)

Teams

Ireland

Rob Kearney; David Kearney, Jared Payne, Luke Fitzgerald, Keith Earls; Jonathan
Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony; Paul O’Connell
(capt), Iain Henderson; Mike Ross, Rory Best, Jack McGrath

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Nathan White, Donnacha Ryan, Chris Henry,
Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Simon Zebo

Canada

Matt Evans; Jeff Hassler, Ciaran Hearn, Nick Blevins, DTH Van Der Merwe; Nathan
Hirayama, Gordon McRorie; Aaron Carpenter, John Moonlight, Kyle Gilmour; Jamie
Cudmore (capt), Brett Beukeboom; Doug Wooldridge, Ray Barkwill, Hubery Buydens

Replacements: Benoit Piffero, Djustics Sears-Duru, Andrew Tiedemann, Jebb Sinclair,
Richard Thorpe, Phil Mack, Liam Underwood, Conor Trainor

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